Renée Watson

Episode 6

Renée Watson

Voice Through Verse: Renée Watson on Poetry as Empowerment

Masthead Waves

About this episode

Renée Watson (Piecing Me Together, Ryan Hart series) teaches us about the power of poetry in children's literature, and how the medium gives kids an outlet to find their voice and speak up.


"There's just something about literally raising your voice and letting these words come out of you. That's powerful." - Renée Watson


Maya Angelou was mute for six years. After a traumatizing childhood experience, the famous poet and activist retreated inward and lost her voice. In Renée Watson's kid-friendly but unflinching retelling of her story in "Maya's Song", Watson shows how poetry was the means to Maya finding her voice and going on to use it in unforgettable ways. That's the power of poetry. And that power is something that Renée is passionate about giving to kids.

From incorporating poetic elements in her stories to writing entire stories in verse, Renée utilizes poetry in her writing frequently. In this episode, she joins to tell us more about how she came to believe in the power of poetry, how she makes it accessible to children, why she thinks it's so important for youth, and more.



  • Chapter 1 - Intro to Reneé (1:39)
  • Chapter 2 - 1619 project (4:21)
  • Chapter 3 - Knoxville, Tennessee (9:33)
  • Chapter 4 - Telling Maya's Story (13:08)
  • Chapter 5 - Teaching Youth Poetry (18:34)
  • Chapter 6 - Music as a Gateway to Poetry (21:39)
  • Chapter 7 - Writing About Portland (26:23)
  • Chapter 8 - Sharing Joy With Ryan Hart (28:36)
  • Chapter 9 - Library visits (30:58)
  • Chapter 10 - Voice Through Voice (31:59)
  • Chapter 11 - Beanstack Featured Librarian (32:51)

Renée's Reading Challenge

Download the free reading challenge worksheet, or view the challenge materials on our helpdesk.

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