Cover of Sacred Places by Jane Yolen

Sacred Places

I was asked to write a book of poems about the sacred places around the world. Frankly, I didn’t think it would work, but I couldn’t help trying. It meant reading about twenty different religions and finding a particular sacred place to represent each. Some were easy choices–Stonehenge for Druids, the Western Wall (or Wailing Wall) for Judaism, Ayers Rock (Uluruh) for the Aboriginal people of Australia. Other were more subtle choices. Shannon’s art is astonishing and beautiful. I used the opening and closing poems–“Hush, this is a sacred place. . .”–when I did a memorial reading in 1999 for a young book lover from Stonehaven, Massachusetts tragically killed in an auto accident. The book was on the 1997-98 Charlie May Simon Preliminary Reading List.


  • 1997 ABC Booksellers Choices list
  • 1997 NCSS-CBC Notable Children’s Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies

What reviewers have said:

  • “Be mindful of dreams when you read this book. … From Delphi to Four Corners, from the Bo Tree to the Wailing Wall, from Ganga to Uluru of the dreamtime, Jane Yolen’s lovely words lead us gently to hallowed ground, combining with Shannon’s striking illustrations to transport the reader to some of the holiest places on our planet. This book evokes the sense of reaching back in time that such places engender. … this is a fine beginning look at the multiple facets of divinity that people have found in these sacred places.” — Children’s Literature
  • “Ages 6-12 will find this an unusual blend of poems and paintings which celebrate sacred places around the world, capturing the history and essence of these holy places.” — Midwest Book Review
  • “<A>n empathetic introduction to a variety of beliefs and practices from past and present religions.”– Publishers Weekly
  • “Holy in the distant past (Delphi), or still sacred today (Mecca), the sites of Yolen’s poetic tributes include some of the world’s most celebrated spiritual and cultural power centers. The poems evoke, rather than describe, their subjects, with brief additional information on each provided in an appendix. . .Shannon’s paintings are compelling. Recognizably realistic, they are nevertheless given expressionistic emphasis, from point-of-view, composition, coloring, or simplification of form, to suggest their spiritual dimension. Browsers may be attracted by the pictures, and if the text is too allusive for some readers, others may accept the mysteries as part of the allure of the sacred”–School Library Journal
  • “Facing the pages of poetry are full-page acrylic paintings, including many striking illustrations, deep in color and often mysterious. An unusual supplement to units on world religions.”—Booklist
  • “[The book] draws one in like an inviting nave…Her poetic use of language helps transport the reader…”—Springfield, MA, SundayRepublican
  • “The multi-taented Yolen has collaborated on a book of poetry that gives young people a sense of the sacred that lies outside their own tradition.”—NAPRA Trade Journal
  • “Unlike Livingston’s Festivalsm which describes many religious ceremonies, Yolen’s poems. . .ientify the core of faith that underlies the rights associated with each spot.”—Bulletin for the Center of Children Books

Available in hardcover.