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Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Introduction

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The Lee Bennett Hopkins Award, established in 1993, is presented annually to an American poet or anthologist for the most outstanding new book of children's poetry published in the previous calendar year. Since its inception in 1993, the winning poet or anthologist has received a handsome plaque and a $500 honorarium made possible by Mr. Hopkins. In 2008, the honorarium was raised to $1000. 

Selected by a panel of nationally recognized teachers, librarians, poets, and scholars, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award for Children's Poetry was the first award of its kind in the United States. Steven Herb, head of the Education and Behavioral Sciences Library at Penn State administered the award from 1993 to 1998. Dan Hade, associate professor of Language & Literacy Education at Penn State administered the award from 1999 to 2006. Karla M. Schmit, Education Librarian and assistant director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book has been the administrator of the annual award since 2007.


For information about the Hopkins Award, contact Karla Schmit, 502 Paterno Library, The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, University Park, PA 16802-1812, or call (814) 863-5472.


The national Lee Bennett Hopkins Award for Children’s Poetry shall be granted annually to an anthology of poetry or a single volume poem published for children in the previous calendar year (as per copyright) by a living American poet or anthologist. The Lee Bennett Hopkins Award for Children’s Poetry shall be administered by The Pennsylvania Center for the Book and Penn State University Libraries.


  • Poet: A poet is, in the narrowest sense, a maker of verses. A poet is also imaginative in thought, expressive in language, and graceful in form.

  • Anthologist: An anthologist, although often a poet as well, is a selector and compiler of poems.

  • Poetry: Poetry both predates and transcends the written word. It is the rhythmic expression of imaginative thoughts about our world and its people.
  • Children: Children are 0 through 14 years old.

  • Anthology: An anthology is a collection of poems usually by various authors.

  • Single Author Collection of Poems: A single author volume of poetry or a book length poem is a contained unit, where the poem or collection of poems expresses the thoughts of a single author.


Good poetry is imaginative. It deals with emotion and has significance beyond the act of creation. It uses figurative language, yet is compact in thought and expression. Good poetry has an element of beauty and truth which appears unstable outside of the poem. The book which wins the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award for Children’s Poetry must be accessible to children and its presentation must serve the poem or poems in an attractive and appropriate manner.

Published in the previous calendar year (as per copyright) refers to poems newly published in the previous year or previously published poetry collected and published in a newly released anthology. Reissued single volumes or anthologies will be considered for the award if the content and design have been significantly altered from the original publication.