2,500 students hear from award-winning children's poet

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- As part of the Virginia Festival of the Book, youth headliner Kwame Alexander addressed 2,500 fourth and fifth graders from around Central Virginia at St. Anne's-Belfield School on Wednesday.

Alexander is a writer and poet known for authoring more than 20 children's books.

"I've been writing books for 24 years," he said. "I like to write books that are engaging, inspiring, entertaining and ultimately empowering."

On Wednesday, Alexander and illustrator Ekua Holmes spoke with students about their newest children's book, Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets.

"It comes from a quote from Lucille Clifton who said poems come out of wonder not out of knowing," said Alexander.

"I think pictures are like another giant doorway into the words and the emotions and the thoughts expressed in the poems," added Holmes.

As Alexander explains, the book is a tribute and celebration of some of the world's most legendary poets.

"Poetry can be kind of a scary thing for young kids that don't understand it yet but he takes it and makes it accessible and exciting," said STAB librarian, Sarah FitzHenry.

Alexander said he started writing after he was inspired at a young age and has hopes of inspiring others.

"Poetry is rhythm and rhyme," he said. "It's how we learned how to talk and communicate and speak and listen when we were children with lullabies and rhymes and so when we get older we sort of forget that and it becomes boring. I want to bring the fun and the cool back into poetry."

Alexander is also the author of The Crossover, which won the Newbery Medal in 2015.

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