John Foster

b. 1941

Everyone enjoys being read to, adults as well as children. There is something about the shared experience that makes it special for both the reader and the listener. John Foster

Inside a shell

John Foster

The Schoolkids’ Rap

John Foster

It Isn't Right to Fight

John Foster

Silver Aeroplane

John Foster

Seaview Haiku

John Foster

Four O'Clock Friday

John Foster

Shaun Short's Short Shorts

John Foster

Edmund Clerihew Bentley

John Foster

Let’s Give a Cheer for Onomatopeia

John Foster

Ten Dancing Dinosaurs

John Foster

The Land of the Flibbertigibbets

John Foster

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About John Foster

John Foster is one of the most highly regarded and successful contemporary children’s’ poets and poetry anthologists in the UK, and has countless publications to his name. Junior Education has described him as: “indisputably the world's premier poetry anthologist”.

John was born in 1941 in Scotby, a village outside Carlisle. He didn’t have a television when he was growing up, so spent a lot of time reading. One of his favourite poems was ‘Albert and the Lion’ by Marriot Edgar, in which the eponymous Albert is eaten by a lion at Blackpool Zoo. John’s father would put on a Lancastrian accent and perform the dark and funny poem for him, which began his life-long love of both listening to, and speaking poetry aloud. He has said in interview with The Poetry Archive: “Poetry is part of the oral tradition and many of my poems are written to be performed.” He wrote many poems at school, and remembers one being published in a school magazine; he also remembers always wanting to be a writer. He went on to study at Oxford University and then trained as a teacher. He taught English for twenty years in Oxfordshire and while he was teaching wrote information books for children, and English course and source books, as well as books and articles for teachers and librarians. The first poems he wrote as an adult were initially made up to amuse his children when they were small, on long car journeys.

Since leaving teaching to become a full-time writer in 1988, John has become a regular visitor to schools. He says: “I like the spontaneous way children react when I perform my poems. I enjoy making them laugh.” John relishes word play and puns – he likes dancing with language to see how it moves. You can hear ‘Give a Cheer for Onomatopoeia’ on this Archive recording, where he has language fizzing and whizzing and humming and drumming. He also enjoys writing in form such as the neat, rhymed four-lined form of the Clerihew - he says it’s a bit like “solving a puzzle”.

John says that “poetry can be serious too” so also writes about issues such as being bullied. You can listen to ‘Four O’clock Friday’ here, in which the speaker of the poem escapes the torment of being bullied when he is “home at last.”

John Foster’s love of spoken word is much evident on this lively Archive Recording. He invites children to “read poems out loud, to revel in the sounds of the words, to learn poems and to recite and perform their favourites, both old and new,” so why not start here? You can read along with John.

This recording was made on 28th March 2012 at The Soundhouse in London, and the producer was Anne Rosenfeld.


Selected bibliography

Crack Another Yolk (ed) OUP, 1996

Never Say Boo to a Ghost (ed) OUP, 1991

Fantastic Football Poems (ed) OUP, 2007

Pet Poems (ed) OUP, 2007

Magic Poems (ed) OUP, 2004

Monster Poems (ed) OUP, 2004

Dragon Poems (ed) OUP, 2004

Dinosaur Poems (ed) OUP, 2004

101 Favorite Poems (ed) Collins, 2002

A Century of Children's Poems (ed) Collins, 2001

The Works 8 (ed) Macmillan, 2009

My First Oxford Book of Animal Poems OUP, 2005

My First Oxford Book of Poems (ed) OUP, 2006

My First Oxford Book of Christmas Poems (ed) OUP, 2007

Twinkle Twinkle Chocolate Bar (ed) OUP, 2009

Whizz, Bang, Orang-Utan (ed) OUP, 2011

My First Book of Nonsense Poems (ed) OUP, 2002

Let's Celebrate: Festival Poems (ed) OUP, 2005

Crocodile Moo (ed) OUP, 2011

See You Later, Escalator (ed) OUP, 2010

School's Out (ed) OUP, 2009

Excuses, Excuses (ed), OUP 2009

I've got a Poem for You: Poems to Perform (ed) OUP, 2010

Football Fever (ed) OUP, 2010

The Land of the Flibbertigibbets, Salt 2011

The Poetry Chest OUP, 2007

Our Teacher's Gone Bananas OUP, 2004

Climb Aboard the Poetry Plane OUP, 2000

Word Wizard OUP, 2001

Bare Bear and Other Rhymes, OUP 1999

My Magic Anorak and Other Rhymes OUP 1999

Bouncing Ben and Other Rhymes OUP, 1998

Doctor Proctor and Other Rhymes OUP 1998

Making Waves OUP, 1997

Standing on the Sidelines, OUP 1995

Four O'Clock Friday OUP, 1996

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