Saturday, April 9, 2016

Lee Bennett Hopkins, National Poetry Month, & National Library Week!

I was nervous to say "hello" to Lee Bennett Hopkins when I met him before a breakout session at an International Reading Association (IRA--now ILA) Conference years ago. He was like a rock star to me. In fact, he IS a rock star of children's poetry, having written and anthologized nearly 200 books of children's poetry! He is a champion of the genre, encouraging beginners and generously supporting awards to children's poets. And of course, he has won numerous awards himself.

But I shouldn't have been nervous, because in spite of his children's poetry rock-stardom, he is also a very kind and gracious person who welcomed me to the room where he was set to introduce children's poet Kristine O'Connell George, an IRA/Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet award winner.

One of Hopkins' recent anthologies, Jumping Off Library Shelves, is a perfect match for National Library Week, April 10-16, 2016. It contains poems by well-known poets Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Nikki Grimes, Michele Krueger, Cynthia Cotten, Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, X.J. Kennedy, Joan Bransfield Graham, Deborah Ruddell, Alice Schertle, Kristine O'Connell George, Ann Whitford Paul, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, and Lee himself. The poems are about the power of story, the role of libraries as refuge and places to explore. Librarians, books, and the internet are all featured here.

Here is Lee reciting his poem, "Good Books, Good Times"

As Lee says, "Be happy with poetry"! (and I would add "and libraries!")


  1. Jane, I'm finishing up a blog post about this very same book and celebrating School Library Month! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ALL of L.B.H's books!!! This one is especially near and dear to my heart. I reread it often!

    1. Absolutely! So happy to hear from you, Mrs. Merrill! Maybe we should start a Lee Bennett Hopkins fan club! :)

  2. Oh Jane, I have only "met" Lee over a Skype mentoring session when I was at Rebecca Kai Dotlich's Highlights workshop. He is so generous and such a fantastic poetry leader and advocate. His work means so much to all of us in the poetry for children world and for authors and writers for kids, as well. You have included a favorite poetry recitation and I love "Jumping Off Library Shelves". We are all richer for knowing and having Lee in our world. Not to mention all the lucky children who are the beneficiaries of his work and life!(And my lucky Laina now has a personally inscribed book of Lee's for life! All thanks to Lee's kindness.)

    1. Thanks for stopping by, skanny17! We are indeed richer for Lee's work among us, and it is heartwarming to see Laina get off to such a wonderful start!

  3. I love books about books and bookstores, too, and poems about reading and books and libraries. We are lucky to have so many, including this one, and then all the other wonderful ones Lee Bennet Hopkins has given us. I am trying to catch up with some posts. Glad I found yours, Jane.

    1. Linda B, thanks for catching up and commenting here!

  4. "This finite existence is only a test, son," God Almighty sed to me in my coma. "Beyond thy earthly tempest is where you'll find corpulent eloquence" (paraphrased). Lemme tella youse without d'New Joisey accent...

    I actually saw Seventh-Heaven when we died: you couldn't GET any moe curly, extravagantly-surplus-lush Upstairs when my beautifull, brilliant, bombastic girl passed-away at 17.

    Find-out where we went on our journey far, far away like the symbiotically, synonyMOUSEs which creep across thy brain bringing U.S. together done in sardonic satires.

    "Those who are wise will shine as brightly as the expanse of the Heavens, and those who have instructed many in uprightousness as bright as stars for all eternity" -Daniel 12:3

    Here's also what the prolific, exquisite GODy sed: 'the more you shall honor Me, the more I shall bless you' -the Infant Jesus of Prague.

    Go git'm, girl. You're incredible.
    See you Upstairs...
    I won't be joining'm in the nasty Abyss where Isis prowls

    PS Need some uncommon, unique, uncivilized names? Lemme gonna gitcha started:

    Oak Woods, Athena Noble, Autumn Rose, Faith Bishop, Dolly Martin, Willow Rhodes, Cocoa Major, China Stone, Bullwark Burnhart, Magnus Wilde, Kardiak Arrest, Will Wright, Goldy Silvers, Sophie Sharp, Gloria Hood, Violet Snow, Lizzy Roach, BoxxaRoxx, Aunty Dotey, Romero Stark, Zachariah Neptoon, Turkey Yankee, Mercurio Morrissey, Fritz & Felix Yates (<-- brothers, Czech republic near Germany), Mortimer Victor, Isabella Kennedy, Redding Rust...

    God blessa youse
    -Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL