Selected Collections

Lee Bennett Hopkins has published numerous poetry collections. Here, you will find a selection of his favorite works. For a full listing of purchasable titles, visit his author page at online retailers such as Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.

More than 400 years ago, English playwright William Shakespeare wrote about the "Seven Ages of Man"—the changing roles we play on the stage of life before taking our final curtain call. This collection of 21 poems, compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins, explores those 7 ages, offering voices and perspectives that are as varied as they are sage. From a Nigerian lullaby to the verses of such contemporary poets as Janet S. Wong, these poems—paired with masterful artwork by Guy Billout—laugh, cry, and sing to celebrate the theater of human existence.

Age Range: 9 to 12


A is for alphabet: "A miraculous set of twenty-six letters when rearranged makes every English word appear." So begins a clever and child-friendly book of pithy poetry centered on the letters of the alphabet. Each poem, which contains one word starting with the featured letter, is only a few words long, but in Hopkins' capable hands, this seems just right to capture an idea or thought. For instance, J is for jelly: "A jolly peanut-butter playmate." Or K is for kitchen, "A room where garlic and cupcakes kiss." Some words are a mouthful for kids: ornithologists are "Teachers of flights and tweets and reasons for putting out suet." Others are closer to home: "Friends. Never apart--even when far away." Matching the accessibility of the poetry is the wonderful full-page artwork, almost bursting off the page, which uses pure, velvety colors and fanciful touches, such as purple and white spotted dogs. Both classes and individuals will find something here to ponder and play with.

- Ilene Cooper, Booklist

Age Range: 6 to 8


Illustrated with large, handsome watercolor portraits, the 16 poems in this anthology celebrate the rich diversity of American kids—what makes each one special and the connections between them. Most poems are original to this collection, except for the final, "My People," by Langston Hughes, which is paired with a close-up view of a huge crowd of parents and kids of many backgrounds that also appears on the cover. A sad kid is not accepted by the in-crowd in Jude Mandell's "I'm the One." In contrast, Pat Mora's poem features a Latino boy who finds bliss in solitude ("I like to count the stars"). Jane Medina's "Me x 2" includes Spanish translation of the lines and shows the riches of bilingualism: "I do twice as much." And Jane Yolen's "Karate Kid" is a fun read-aloud ("Chop / Kick / Peace / Power") and features a dynamic portrait of a girl in action. A great collection for sharing at home and in the classroom.

- Hazel Rochman, Booklist

Age Range: 6 to 12


In this collection of original poems, acclaimed anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins brings together fourteen selections that celebrate through poetic imagery some of the amazingly diverse places in our nation. These include Denali National Park, the Oneida Nation Museum, San Francisco s Chinatown, the Grand Canyon, the Ringling Circus Museum, Harlem, the Liberty Bell, Fenway Park, and more. The poems as a whole take readers on an exciting multiethnic travelogue around the United States and encourage a positive appreciation of our country s historical, environmental, and cultural heritage.

Age Range: 6 to 10


This handsome anthology, expressing Americans' varied experience during wartime, is a fine selection of poems accessible to children. Each poem appears on one or two pages, accompanied by strong, yet graceful illustrations. Though not all content is tied to a particular conflict and not all the poets are American, the poems work well together to represent book's sections: the American Revolution, the Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the wars in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq. Each section begins with a short quote from a philosopher, political leader, or military officer and a few brief comments on the conflict. Once the poems begin, though, readers will be transported from the broad view to the particulars by the thoughts, words, and experiences of people affected by war in different ways. The poems will touch readers with their sharp poignancy and undeniable power. Throughout the well-designed book, the expressive watercolor artwork enhances the poetry and gives a sweeping sense of unity and dignity to diverse points of view. Grades 5-8.

-Carolyn Phelan, Booklist

Age Range: 8 to 12


Hopkins distills the experience of his middle-grade years into 28 poems of poignant clarity, achieving in very few words what many prose authors take chapters to tell. The first poem, with its too sprightly picture-perfect family, will make readers suspect that the future holds "another long drawn-out night / another bitter, brutal fight" ending in "the dreaded word--divorce." The Woolworth store is a recurring motif in the poems, including the heartbreakingly honest "Clutching," in which Hopkins learns from his mother that the lady with the kind smile and dark skin is a "nigger," not, according to his grandmother, a good word to choose, because "some words / can hurt / when you / blurt 'em out. / Cause / undue sorrow. / Cause / undue pain." Hopkins transforms bleak events into crystalline moments, concluding with his resolve as a 13-year-old to "make the world a whole lot brighter" by becoming a writer. Good reading and an excellent, unconventional choice for teachers doing units on poetry and autobiography.

- Susan Dove Lempke, Booklist

Age Range: 8 to 12


Hopkins' clear, lively poems celebrate the diversity and connections of urban life, and on each double-page spread, New Yorker magazine illustrator Hall extends the words with vibrantly colored cartoon drawings. Though no places are specifically named, a clear world map on the endpapers shows 18 cities, one for each poem, and the pictures show a traveling dog with a backpack visiting particular places across the globe. Kids will enjoy identifying the famous locations, from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the pyramid in the distance in Cairo, but the focus is on the joy of urban life: lights, skyscrapers, hydrants, taxis, music, noise. One of the best poems is "Subways Are People" ("people always on the go / Racing, running, rushing people / People I will never know"), that zeros in on the fun of crowds, of anonymity, "races of faces," and busy streets everywhere.

- Hazel Rochman, Booklist

Age Range: 4 to 8


In Days to Celebrate Lee Bennett Hopkins has collected an astounding array of information to show us that each day of the year gives us a reason to celebrate. For every month he has compiled a calendar of birthdays, holidays, historic events, inventions, world records, thrilling firsts, and more.

And for every month he has selected surprising poems in honor of some of the people and events commemorated in the calendar. There are poems about the seasons and holidays, of course, but there are also poems about a "Flying-Man" (for February 4, Charles Lindbergh's birthday), birds (for April 26, John James Audubon's birthday), windshield wipers (patented November 10), and earmuffs (patented December 21).

Beloved poets, such as Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Christina Rossetti, are joined by new voices in sixty poems that take us on a remarkable journey through a year -- and through the years. Stephen Alcorn's illustrations, based on the style of art found in old almanacs, are airy, whimsical, and thought provoking. They perfectly match the breadth and depth of this volume.

Brilliantly conceived and elegantly illustrated, Days to Celebrate is a book that pays tribute to the people, events, and poetry that make up our past and will inspire our future.

Age Range: 7 and up


What if your favorite dinosaurs could sing and dance and play just like you? How would Triceratops get dressed for school? What kind of music would Velociraptor Listen to? What —or who—would T. rex eat for lunch?

Beloved poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins brings together many of today's best children's poets in this clever collections of delightfully dizzy dinosaur poems.

Age Range: 4 to 8


This charming picture book by the team that created City I Love introduces readers to playwriting and performing while sharing a unique and tender story of friendship.

Best friends Kyle and Katie do everything together. When Kyle decides to write a play about a full moon, Katie decides she will write one about a star. But it is always more fun to do things together, so when they decide to combine their two plays to create Full Moon and Star, the outcome is a beautiful collaboration and an over-the-moon testament to their friendship.

Age Range: 3 to 7


Because the format is open and uncrowded, readers may browse this collection with pleasure, note familiar voices such as Frost and Longfellow, and notice how many good pieces there are from Whitman, Hughes, and Sandburg. The text is divided into nine chronological sections, and double-page illustrations set the mood of different periods. These large illustrations are stronger than the greeting-card-like sketches that mingle with the poems. Selections from the earliest historical period are rather traditional, while those from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries show more diversity. Although putting Lincoln's Gettysburg Address into lines of poetry doesn't seem accurate and may confirm a child's sense that poetry is "fancy" while prose is "bare," doing so gives children one more chance to encounter a great piece of American writing.

- Mary Harris Veeder, Booklist

Age Range: 7 to 10


Now, before I run and play Let me not forget to pray.

Help make talking with God a fun and natural daily experience with this collection of prayers, including two original works by award-winning poet Lee Bennett Hopkins. With special prayers for all day long, these selections are sure to become childhood favorites your child will love and pray for years to come!

Age Range: 4 to 7


In this picture-book collection from veteran anthologist Hopkins, 13 well-known children's poets celebrate how books can take readers on wild adventures ("I storm / toward shackled screams / of a kidnapped damsel"), as well as how plain words can reveal the surprising drama in ordinary things, even the rhyming sounds of a clock: "tick-tock / ding-dong / bing-bong." Karla Kuskin speaks about the "wonders of wandering / wonderful pages" and "the nonsense and knowledge" the come "tumbling out." And in another selection, Kristine O'Connell George writes, "riding home from the library, / don't need a window seat. / Got a great new book to read, / eleven more beneath my feet." The whimsical, light-toned acrylic artwork extends the metaphors with witty, fantastical transformations of books: in one scene, a dark-blue book cover becomes an ocean, where you can "dive in the sea of words and swim." Fun for sharing with preschoolers, this will also spark discussion in grade-school writing and art classes. Notes about each poet are appended.

- Hazel Rochman, Booklist

Age Range: 4 to 8


As the title suggests, ingenious inventions are the focus of this lively picture-book poetry collection. Contributed by both well-known and emerging poets, the selections represent a wide range of styles, from reflective haikus to high-energy concrete poems. The subjects, drawn from a young person's everyday world, add to the poems' accessibility; Band-Aids, Fig Newtons, blue jeans, Velcro, and jigsaw puzzles are among the creations spotlighted in poems that range in tone. Some are straightforward verse accounts of an object's invention; others are more whimsical, such as Alice Schertle's "The Signal's Lament," written from the viewpoint of a traffic light bored with its same trio of colors: "I long for magenta, maroon." The mixed-media artwork's well-designed compositions add energy without overwhelming the words, and a final prose section offers further information about each invention. The blend of poetry and technology makes this a natural choice for cross-curricular sharing, and kids will find inspiration in Drew Lamm's reminder that inventions spring from "one person wondering on any old day."

-Gillian Engberg, Booklist

Age Range: 5 to 10


Here is the library, not just as a place that houses books, but as an experience. Fifteen poems celebrate the thrill of getting your first library card, the excitement of story hour, the fun of using the computer, the pride of reading to the dog, and the joy of discovering that the librarian understands you and knows exactly which books you’ll love. The poems, compiled by noted poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins, pay homage to the marvels of books and reading. Accompanied by Jane Manning’s colorful, imaginative illustrations, this collection lyrically celebrates the magic of libraries.

Age Range: 5 to 8


Beloved children’s poet and anthologizer Lee Bennett Hopkins has produced more than 100 volumes of poetry throughout his illustrious career, but Lullaby and Kisses Sweet is his first collection geared toward babies and toddlers. Featuring 30 original poems by esteemed children’s writers like Jane Yolen, Marilyn Singer, and J. Patrick Lewis, the book introduces the youngest readers to loving rhymes in a playful, accessible way. This beautifully designed casebound board book is organized into five themes—Family, Food, “Firsts,” Playtime, and Bedtime—while cuddly, anthropomorphized animals make the poems friendly and relatable. Lullaby and Kisses Sweet fosters the love of poetry and is the perfect gift for babies, toddlers, and their poetry-loving parents.

Age Range: 3 years


There is a legend that describes how, at midnight on Christmas Eve, all creatures are granted the power of speech for one hour. In this rich collection, Lee Bennett Hopkins and a dozen other poets imagine what responses they might offer. The poems represent adiverse group of animals, but all come together with one singular purpose: celebrating the joy of the miraculous event.

This collection of graceful poems provides readers with a Nativity story unlike any other -- at times gently humorous, at timesprofound, but always inviting readers to appreciate the wonder of Christmas. This book is a perfect gift for the holiday season.

Age Range: 4 to 8


On that first Christmas night, the earth bursts with praise at the Savior's birth. Donkeys bray, sheep bleat, horses neigh, and shepherds come from nearby fields -- but Mary simply wants to be alone with her sweet babe.

When quiet finally falls, Mary cradles her son and sings her mother-song, leaving readers dreaming of that silent night so long ago.

Mary's Song, with its melodic language and rich illustrations, is a lovely reminder of the meaning of Christmas and a welcome pause in the midst of a bustling world.

Age Range: 3 months to 18 years



In My America, Lee Bennett Hopkins weaves together fifty poems — grouped by geographic region — to create a remarkable portrait of the United States. Here is America in all its stunning variety, from the dramatic seacoast of the Northeast and the rippling cornfields of the Plains States to the shimmering deserts of the Southwest and the majestic redwood forests of the Pacific Coast. But here, too, are the ties that bind this nation together — the hopes and dreams of those who live in our cities and towns and on farms.

The voices of beloved poets like Langston Hughes, Carl Sandburg, Nikki Giovanni, and Lilian Moore blend with new voices to sing not just of landmarks like the Mississippi River, the Grand Canyon, and the Everglades, but of daily life across the land. Complementing these personal, moving visions of America are maps of the regions and fascinating facts for each state.

Stephen Alcorn's brilliant, textured artwork makes this book a feast for the eyes as well as for the imagination. Impressive for its breadth, depth, and beauty, My America is a volume readers will savor as they read it time and time again. It is fitting homage to our wideranging, ever-changing land.

Age Range: 8 to 12



bugs

A collection of creepy, crawly poems by some of today's most beloved children's poets.

This tribute to the delightful nastiness of bugs features sixteen poems by accomplished children's poets, including Marilyn Singer, J. Patrick Lewis, and Rebecca Andrew Loescher. From "Ode to a Dead Mosquito" to "Termite Tune," this brightly illustrated, kid-friendly collection riffs on the details of the world's most infamous insects. Fun facts about the featured creatures round out this sure bet for poetry fans and bug enthusiasts alike.

Age Range: 6 to 8




There are plenty of children's poetry collections that celebrate the seasons; John Updike's A Child's Calendar (1965) is just one classic example. What makes this one special is the beautiful combination of accessible verse and Diaz's radiant artwork. The 48 poems, 12 for each season, include familiar contributions from Carl Sandburg and Karla Kuskin as well as specially commissioned works by well-known contemporary poets for children, including Marilyn Singer, J. Patrick Lewis, and Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Many of the entries personify nature, as in April Halprin Wayland's whimsical selection that imagines spring flowers showing up for a first day of class: "Let's go around the room. / Call out your colors." Others focus on human activities throughout the year and the small, sensory moments that make each season special, from the smell of cold spring air to the cozy crackle of a December fire. In his signature combination of stylized figures and vibrant patterns, Diaz's remarkable, glowing scenes add depth and meaning to each poem without overwhelming the words. In an image accompanying the anonymous poem "August Heat," for example, a man rendered in a blurred, fiery silhouette appears to almost melt into the atmosphere. Well suited for use across the curriculum, this handsome title will remind a wide audience of each season's wonders.

-Gillian Engberg, Booklist

Age Range: 8 to 12


This colorfully illustrated compilation presents 15 poems that show the power of words. The authors include Eve Merriam, Pat Mora, David McCord, Nikki Grimes, and Carl Sandburg. All of the selections are excellent, and provide examples of different types of poetry. The gouache illustrations are unusual, combining folk art with more abstract images. The colors are bold and bright, and used in unique and unexpected ways (e.g., skin is blue, palm trees are pink). The simple page designs nicely incorporate the text into each picture. The paintings reflect the content and messages of the poems they accompany, and will enhance their meaning. With some adult encouragement, this book would be appealing to most children, and could be used for poetry lessons.

- Corrina Austin, Locke's Public School, St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, School Library Journal

Age Range: 4 to 8

 

 
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