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About the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award

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The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award was named for the internationally renowned educator, poet, anthologist and passionate advocate of poetry for young people. Established in 1993, the award is presented annually to an American poet or anthologist for the most outstanding new book of poetry for children published in the previous calendar year. 

Selected by a panel of authors, librarians, teachers and scholars, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award was the first award of its kind in the United States. The Pennsylvania Center for the Book and the Penn State University Libraries share joint administration of the annual award. 

This award is administered by Ellysa Cahoy, Director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book —and is funded by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, sponsored by Penn State University Libraries, and an endowment established through the generosity of Lee Bennett Hopkins and Charles Egita.


For information about the Hopkins Award, contact Ellysa Stern Cahoy, 502 Paterno Library, The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, University Park, PA 16802.


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.

Remembering Lee Bennett Hopkins (4/13/1938-08/08/2019):

“Our Dear One, Lee Bennett Hopkins passed away holding his husband Charles’ hand. Lee—author, poet, editor, poetry impresario, anthologist, and friend—addressed each of his loved ones as ‘Dear One,’ and was a friend to all who loved words and children. My friendship with Lee began in the mid-1980s during my public library days. By the early 1990s, Lee wrote to propose we pitch a national award to annually recognize the best book of children’s poetry published in the preceding year to the Children’s Literature Council of Pennsylvania. He held a soft spot in his heart for his home state of Pennsylvania and was eager to provide the prize and his name for the award. 

"My colleagues and I had the award up-and-running in less than a year. Its inaugural winner, Ashley Bryan turned 96 last month. Its 27th winner, Andrea Pinkney accepted her award with illustrator husband Brian on Ashley’s birthday this past July. Currently located at Penn State University and administered by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award for Children's Poetry will endure thanks to Lee’s permanent endowment. We will miss his hearty and slightly naughty laugh, his stories, his encyclopedic knowledge of children’s publishing, and most of all, his friendship. Our condolences to his husband, Charles, whose devotion to Lee was wonderful to behold. 

"Good-bye, Dear One.”

—Steven Herb, Director Emeritus, on behalf of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book