McGough was speaking as the shortlist for the £1,000 award, made by The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), was announced.
The shortlistees include anthology Let in the Stars, edited by Mandy Coe and illustrated by The Manchester School of Art (Manchester Metropolitan University); Joseph Coelho’s debut collection Werewolf Club Rules, illustrated by John O’Leary (Frances Lincoln); and an anthology of poetry celebrating Caribbean culture and environment, Give the Ball to the Poet, edited by Georgie Horrell, Aisha Spencer and Morag Styles and illustrated by Jane Ray (Commonwealth Education Trust).
Completing the shortlist are Hilda Offen’s collection for young children with themes of nature and history, Blue Ribbons and Rabbit Ears (Troika Books), and Rachel Rooney’s My Life as a Goldfish and other poems, illustrated by Ellie Jenkins (Frances Lincoln).
McGough said: “The judges were excited by the variety and quality of the poetry in the books submitted for this year’s award and a spirited discussion took place before we arrived at our shortlist.”
He added: “However, once again we were sorry that there were not more submissions and that so few publishers are producing poetry books for children and young people. It is essential that organisations such as CLPE continue to highlight the importance of published children’s poetry and give it the status it deserves in schools and in the world of children’s literature.”
For the first time, CLPE is running a shadowing scheme to involve schools in the award. As part of the scheme, a competition will see children from winning schools invited to perform on stage at the award ceremony. All schools, regardless of whether they are participating in the shadowing, can use free resources such as films of the shortlisted poets performing and talking about their work, as well as accompanying teaching resources available on CLPE’s Poetryline website (www.poetryline.org.uk).
The winner of the 2015 Award will be announced on 16th July.