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Press Releases - Lee Bennett Hopkins Award


'Welcome to the Wonder House' wins 2024 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award

Award jointly administered by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book and Penn State University Libraries

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book have announced the 2024 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, presented annually to an American poet or anthologist for the most outstanding new book of poetry for children published in the previous calendar year. This year’s winner is “Welcome to the Wonder House,” written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Georgia Heard, illustrated by Deborah Freedman, and published by Wordsong, an imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers.

“‘Welcome to the Wonder House’ was a standout from the moment we read it,” said one judge. “The language and illustrations beautifully complement each other, which makes the book an absolute delight. The book of poetry divides the house into rooms that explore different STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) topics. The language of the book allowed me to visualize and reimagine my own house where different rooms became the staging area for astronomy, creativity, geology and so on.”

The authors will each be awarded a $1,000 prize, courtesy of Lee Bennett Hopkins’ estate, and an engraved commemorative.

Additionally, judges named two honor books: “The Museum on the Moon: The Curious Objects on the Lunar Surface,” written by Irene Latham, illustrated by Miriam Wares, and published by Moonshower, an imprint of Bushel & Peck Books; and “My Head Has a Bellyache: And More Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups,” written by Chris Harris, illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi, and published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

A judge said, “‘The Museum of the Moon’ by Irene Latham includes poems in a variety of styles that use words to express big ideas and inspire thinking about the science of the moon. A unique, wonderful approach to the continuous mystery of the moon for children.”

“Chris Harris is a brilliant combination of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein with ‘My Head Has a Bellyache,’” said a judge. “Our world can use a bit of silliness, but these poems are a level above. They make you think a minute before you guffaw. They are meant to be shared with the cleverest of kids and adults.”

The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award was named for the late internationally renowned educator, poet, anthologist and passionate advocate of poetry for young people. Established in 1993, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award was the first of its kind in the United States. The Pennsylvania Center for the Book and Penn State University Libraries share joint administration of the annual award, and its winning titles are selected by a panel of authors, librarians, teachers and scholars.

The 2024 judges for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award are Karla M. Schmit, Penn State education librarian emeritus and director emeritus of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Oakes, North Dakota (chair); Erlene Bishop Killeen, retired school library coordinator, Stoughton Area School District, Stoughton, Wisconsin; Meagan Lenihan, librarian, Lincoln School, Providence, Rhode Island; Samrat Sharma, doctoral candidate, Penn State; and Margaret G. Simon, teacher of gifted students, Iberia Parish Schools, New Iberia, Louisiana.

The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Center for the Book established in 1977 at the Library of Congress, encourages Pennsylvania’s citizens and residents to study, honor, celebrate and promote books, reading, libraries and literacy. In addition to the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, it administers A Baker’s Dozen: The Thirteen Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy, the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, and the interactive Literary & Cultural Heritage Map of Pennsylvania.

For more information about the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award, contact Ellysa Cahoy, director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Book, at or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book website.