Lullaby and Kisses Sweet

Hi everyone,

One of the nice gifts awaiting me in my mail when we returned from Florida was my copy of Lee Hopkins latest anthology, LULLABY & KISSES AND SWEET. It’s a board book for wee ones published by Abrams Appleseed and features poems by many names you’ll know plus a few you’ll want to know. I’m very happy to be among the contributors to Lee’s collection. It’s a handsome book that’s sure to make its way into many homes here and abroad.

I’ll finish packing in a few minutes and be off to the Children’s Literature Festival in Warrensburg. But first I have to unpack my bags from Florida to make room for clean underwear and such.


Lee Bennett Hopkins today

Hi everyone,

As my summer series of return Featured Guests rolls on, today it is my privilege to bring back Lee Bennett Hopkins. Yesterday you met Lee by way of a bio. Today you meet the man and his philosophy. I hope you’ll feel free to comment and pose questions. Now, here’s Lee, who has added notes about his upcoming book.

Click here for a recent interview with Jama Rattigan which features my new book FULL MOON AND STAR (Abrams):

FULL MOON AND STAR is a picture book about two young children, Kyle and Katie, who write plays for one another about the universe. I am so pleased to have Marcellus Hall on board as artist since we did CITY I LOVE together.

I haven’t done a picture book in eons so this is a very special book to me. FULL MOON… brings together my love of theatre, playwriting, and a unique friendship between two children.

I even had great fun with the dedication which reads: To my sister, Donna Lea Venturi, my favorite leading lady. And she is!

Official publication date is August l. Pre-pub reviews have already appeared such as KIRKUS: “…the focus on playwriting and performance, complete with script formatting and special punctuation, sets a new stage for this common tale.”

A paperback edition will be exclusively distributed in the British Isles.

Here is Lee’s original Featured Guest spot.

How did you get started writing poetry?

Having used poetry as an elementary school teacher for many years and seeing what it can do to enhance the lives of all children, everywhere,the genre became a favorite of mine. I suppose I started by accident.

The first poem I penned, “Hydrants” written in the late l960’s was a result of my city-living. The first person who heard it was May Swenson, the great American Poet, who further encouraged me. At her home in Long Island I read it to her (cautiously) before dinner. After dinner she asked me if I would read it again! After her comments all I did was want to write.

The more I read the more I wanted to write. I absorbed the best at the time: David McCord, Myra Cohn Livingston, Lilian Moore, Eve Merriam, Karla Kuskin, Aileen Fisher etc., all of whom later became personal friends of mine.

Do you have a favorite among all the poems/poetry books you have written?

I still marvel at my creating BEEN TO YESTERDAYS: POEMS OF A LIFE (Boyds Mills Press) published over fourteen years ago…so long I almost forget writing it. The book received great national attention including being an SCBWI Golden Kite
Honor Book and winning the Christopher Medal which was presented to me by James Earl Jones! But – I couldn’t attend the affair in NYC due to a prior commitment to a friend
who had asked me a long time prior to speak at a dinner meeting in South Carolina!

As I was eating spaghetti all I could think of was Mr. Jones. My agent, the great-late Marilyn E. Marlow accepted the award for me…and never let me forget the moment!

…YESTERDAYS continues to be read and read and used in all kinds of programs from youth groups to Al-Anon groups. The small book has touched so many; I never knew the power of the words could have gone on so long.

And of course, my latest, CITY I LOVE (Abrams), starred in SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL and PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, compiles many poems I wrote about city life and living. To capture sights and sounds of urban life and put them into poems was a great challenge. Ah: “In the city/I live in–/city I love—“: Ironically I now live in a suburb of Florida but often yearn for my city digs.

Would you like to share the details of any new poetry project(s) that you’re working on?

Come Spring, 2010, I have two collections that will appear. One is SHARING THE SEASONS (McElderry Books) illustrated by David Diaz. David and I wanted to work together even before he won the Caldecott Medal for SMOKY NIGHT, by Eve Bunting (Harcourt). His work on SHARING THE SEASONS is truly spectacular. And each poem resonates with new looks at each season of the year…many written exclusively for this collection by some of our top children’s poets – Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Joan Bransfield Graham, Marilyn Singer.

The second is AMAZING FACES (Lee & Low), illustrated by the multi-talented Chris Soentipiet. …FACES shows the diversity of multi-ethnicity among a wide array of

Why Poetry?

I have been asked this question so many countless times that years ago I decided to write a poem to answer it:

by Lee Bennett Hopkins

(Reprinted by permission of Curtis-Brown, Ltd.)

Why poetry?
Why sunsets?
Why trees?
Why birds?
Why seas?
Why you?
Why me?
Why friends?
Why families?
Why laugh?
Why cry?
Why hello?
Why good-bye?
Why poetry?

That’s why!

In closing:

Poetry should be used every day throughout the curriculum for nothing – no thing – can ring and rage through hearts and minds as does this genre of literature.

I’ve written it, I’ve shouted it, I’ve said it, I’ll say it over and over and over again – PASS THE POETRY, PLEASE!
Thanks to Lee for sharing his passion about poetry and its place in our lives no matter what our age. Comments?


Lee Bennett Hopkins tomorrow

ANNOUNCEMENT: While looking for one thing, I just found another; actually, two other things: my first and second publications. You’re going to love the titles. Number one: THE GROWTH OF THE RAT TAPEWORM, HYMENOLEPIS DIMINUTA, DURING THE FIRST FIVE DAYS IN THE FINAL HOST, published in The Journal of Parasitology. Number two: A STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF MOUSE MOTOR ACTIVITY DATA AS RECORDED WITH THE NUTATING ANNULAR ACTIVITY CAGE, published in The Pharmacologist. Ah, those were the days!

Hi everyone,

Tomorrow it will be my pleasure to reintroduce Lee Bennett Hopkins to you. Today I’m reposting the bio he sent for his original Featured Guest spot. Knowing Lee, this is undoubtedly out of date already, but it will give you some idea of his activities, interests, and accomplishments.

Stay cool everyone!

Lee Bennett Hopkins has written and edited numerous award-winning books for children and young adults, as well as professional texts and curriculum materials. He has taught elementary school and served as a consultant to school systems throughout the country. Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Hopkins graduated Kean University, Bank Street College of Education, and holds a Professional Diploma in Educational Supervision and Administration from Hunter College. In 1980 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Kean University.

in 1989 he received the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for “outstanding contributions to the field of children’s literature” in recognition of his work; 2009 brought him the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Excellence in Poetry for Children recognizing his aggregate body of work. Among his original collections are Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life (Boyds Mills Press) an autobiographical book of poetry that received the prestigious Christopher Medal and a Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Golden Kite Honor Award, Alphathoughts: Alphabet Poems, and City I Love (Abrams, 2009), illustrated by jazz musician, Marcellus Hall, starred in both PW and SLJ.

His creativity is the result of his passion for poetry and his unflagging belief that poetry is a necessity for children, at home and in the classroom.

His award winning series of American History through poetry for children and young adults include Hand in Hand: An American History Through Poetry, illustrated by Peter Fiore, My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, and America At War, both illustrated by Stephen Alcorn (all Simon & Schuster/McElderry Books).

His recent, SKY MAGIC (Dutton, 2009) received a starred review in THE HORN BOOK calling the anthology ‘mesmerizing…a hypnotic,
otherworldly feel.”

At the heart of all his writing is the dedication in bringing children and books together. “You must teach children to love books,” he insists. “We spend too much time teaching children to read and not enough time teaching them to love to read.”

To encourage the recognition of poetry, he has established two major awards: the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, presented annually by Penn State University for a single volume of poetry, and the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Reading Association Promising Poet Award, presented every three years by IRA.

One of the nation’s most sought-after speakers on the subject of children’s literature, Mr. Hopkins lives in Cape Coral, Florida. PHONE: 239.549.9514

EMAIL:  See:,

Upcoming guests

Happy Monday!

To date this month we’ve enjoyed the work of eight adult poets: Steven Withrow, Amy, Genia, Gay Fawcett, Ken Thomas Slesarik, Mary Nida Smith, Beth Carter, and Reta Stewart Allen. Among the young poets, Taylor McGowan is our only poet to post a poem so far. There is still plenty of time for many more poets to show off their stone-inspired poems. Today is the 10th and we don’t cut off submissions until the night of May 23.

I’ve been looking back at the talented guests who have appeared on my Friday spots. It is a pleasure to bring so many strong voices here and I hope you are enjoying them as much as I am. Here is a list of their names and the dates they appeared.

11-9-09, Wendy Schmalz
11-28-09 , Gay Fawcett
12-4-09, Sylvia Vardell
12-11-09 , Sandy Asher
12-19-09, Marilyn Singer
12-29-09, Mary Jo Fresch
1-8-10, Kathy Temean
1-15-10, Cheryl Harness
1-22-10, Vicki Grove
1-29-10, Laura Robb
2-5-10, Laura Purdie Salas
2-8-10, Laura Purdie Salas continued
2-12-10, Lee Bennett Hopkins
2-19-10, Tim Rasinski
2-26-10, Laura Backes
3-5-10, June Rae Wood
3-12-10, Jane Yolen
3-19-10, Dan Burr
3-26-10, J. Patrick Lewis
4-2-10, Nile Stanley
4-9-10, Bobbi Katz
4-16-10, Gay Fawcett
4-23-10, Rebecca Dotlich
4-30-10, Steven Withrow
5-7-10, Charles Ghigna

Coming up in weeks ahead will be Ruth Culham, Greg Pincus, Georgia Heard, Tricia Stohr-Hunt, Suzy Capozzi (editor at Random House Step Into Reading books), Cynthia Leitich Smith, and Christine French Clark (Editor-in-Chief of Highlights for Children).

The list is much longer, but this will give you an idea of the wonderful talent still in store. I continue to send invitations to others as I have time so keep your recommendations coming.



A panel discussion I recommend

My thanks once again to Charles Ghigna for being my guest yesterday. If you haven’t had time yet to read the interview, I hope you will mark it to read later.


I told you that I’ll present in November in Orlando at National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) about our Word of the Month Poetry Challenge. I hope to see some of you there and I encourage you to tell teachers you know to come to my session from 8:00 – 9:15 on Saturday morning, November 20.

There will be a fascinating panel on Friday morning that I recommend and will attend if my flight schedule permits. It’s called Poets and Bloggers Unite: Using Technology to Connect Kids, Teachers, and Poetry. Doesn’t that sound interesting? Our friend Sylvia Vardell,  put the panel togetherand it includes Lee Bennet Hopkins, ; Marilyn Singer, ; Pat Mora, ; Jame Richards, ; Tricia Stohr-Hunt, ; and Elaine Magliaro, .You will recognize Sylvia, Lee, Marilyn, and Tricia who have all appeared as guests and/or contributors on my blog.

Here’s a glimpse into what Sylvia and the panel intend to discuss: We’ll consider how poets, teachers, and kids can use technology to connect through poetry. Together, we’ll use the interactive medium of the do-it-yourself blog to think deeply and broadly about how virtual learning environments and authentic literacy experiences can inspire and empower students and teachers, connecting with the wider, “real world” community in purposeful ways. What kinds of poetry and strategies engage students to wonder and explore, ask big questions, make discoveries and connections, and learn about themselves and others?

Thanks to the remarkable influece of today’s technology, a panel of dynamic people like these come together to consider how to harness the power of technology to bring poetry into the lives of young readers. I hope some of you will have a chance to attend this session, which takes place on Friday from 9:30-10:45.

If you have thoughts or comments on this subject, please let us know. Thanks!