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Lee Bennett Hopkins
Multicultural, Poetry and Literature for Young Adults

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Lee Bennett Hopkins
Photo from web. Click on to go to link.

Biographical Information:

" Born April 13, 1938 in Scranton, Pennsylvania
" Has a brother and a sister
" Mother was an alcoholic
" Father left when Lee was 12 years old
" Established Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award in 1993 & Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Reading Association Promising Poet Award in 1995.

My Top 10:

1. Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 1995. Been to yesterdays: poem of a life. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press.
2. _________________ 1982. Circus! Circus!: poems. Illus. by John O'Brien. New York, NY: Knopf.
3. _________________ 1970. The city spreads its wings: poems. Illus. by Moneta Barnett. New York, NY: Franklin Watts.
4. _________________ 1981. I am the cat: poems. Illus. by Linda Rochester Richards. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanich.
5. _________________ 1977. Mama. New York, NY: Knopf.
6. _________________ 1992. Questions. Illus. by Carolyn Croll. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
7. _________________ 1970. This street's for me!: poems. New York, NY: Crown Publishers.
8. _________________ 1972. Happy birthday to me. Illus. by Wayne Blickenstaff.
9. _________________ 1974. Hey-how for halloween! Illus. by Janet McCaffery. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanich.
10. _________________ 1995. Good rhymes, good times. Illus. by Frane' Lessac. New York, NY: HarperTrophy.

While there are many outstanding anthologies put together by Lee Bennett Hopkins where he celebrates classic poets, new contemporary poets, or follows a particular theme, I walk away from those books wanting more by Hopkins as he has this special way of tapping into the child within himself. For this reason my favorite books are ten that I found that are not collections or anthologies. I can only hope through time I will be able to add all of these titles to my own collection.

My five favorite poems:

Introduction: I don't know of anyone that really can't remember losing teeth as a child and the theme is so universal! Remember the string on the doorknob? The only good thing I can remember about this was the myth of the Tooth Fairy. I really preferred to have my teeth come out on their own but I also knew that my tongue would continue to play with it until the job was done.

"This Tooth"

I jiggled it
jaggled it
jerked it.

I pushed
and pulled
and poked it.


As soon as I stopped,
and left it alone,
This tooth came out
on its very own!

With a baby tooth in my pocket and a model of a tooth, I could introduce the poem with a discussion about ways students get out their loose teeth. After reading the poem I would pull the baby tooth out to show for emphasis. With the tooth model we could learn what teeth are different types and even get into dental hygiene. The nurse could visit the class and discuss proper cleaning. So this poem can introduce an entire science unit. Students could also interview each other on techniques they have used to pull out a loose tooth and the results could be put on sentence cards and displayed around the poem. Further poems about teeth could be looked for in groups.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 1995. Good rhymes, good times. Illus. by Frane' Lessac. New York, NY: HarperTrophy.


Another time that occurs so often for a child is bedtime. There are so many ways for a child to try and delay that time. I know I sure didn't want to turn out that light and wait for sleep to come. I'd try to hear the conversations in the other room even after all the delays! Or try to think of a reason to jump out of bed one more time.

Can I have a glass of water?
Can I sip some apple juice?
Can I say good night to Daddy?
Will you read me Dr. Seuss?

Will I see you in the morning?
Won't you please keep on the light?


If only I could find a way
To chase

Students can draw pictures and then tell each other about the rituals that they used before going to bed or the light being turned out. They can relate experiences from when they have done babysitting for other children also. Using the cloze procedure, students can fill in different things they might ask for to delay that time. For Show and Tell they could bring a toy that they want to have with them when they go to bed at night, especially if they are staying over at someone else's house.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 1995. Good rhymes, good times. Illus. by Frane' Lessad. New York, NY: HarperTrophy.

"Overnight at the Vet's"

There has always been a cat or two and a dog in my home for as long as I can remember. When I moved out on my own, it was difficult to live in places where pets were not permitted. My happiest day came when I had a home with a pet to keep me company. It made my house a home.

I found
a strand
of snow-white hair

strewn upon his
favorite chair.

I wonder how
he's feeling there


I wonder
if he wants
his bone.

I wonder
if he'll catch
a flea-

I wonder

Students can draw pictures of their pet or the pet they would like to have. A discussion can be held on what things have to be done to take care of a pet.
A visit by a veterinarian or someone from the animal shelter would work well here. Students could also write about what happened for this pet to go to the vet.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett. 1995. Good rhymes, good times. Illus. by Frane' Lessac.

"City I Love"

Having never lived in the country, my childhood memories are the sounds and sights around me in Tulsa. I remember the ice cream man, the garbage men, the street cleaners and looking for constellations with my flashlight. Since most of my students have lived in the city all their lives, this poem might give them a new, fresh look at their lives.

In the city
I live in-
city I love-
mornings wake
swishes, swashes,
of sweepers
swooshing litter
from gutters.

In the city
I live in-
city I love-
afternoons pulse
people hurrying,
races of faces
pacing to

In the city
I live in-
city I love-
nights shimmer
with lights
with stars
above unknown heights.

In the city
I live in-
city I love-
as dreams
start to creep
my city
of senses

I would like to have this one done in a choral reading style with one person doing a type of chorus and others adding a line. This should accent the rythmn of the poem and help them be more aware of the repetitive sounds without taking apart the poem. Afterwards I would want each student, with the use of a thesaurus, write one more verse of their own that could be added to the poem. We could also try verses using other senses like touch and taste.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett. Ed. 2002. Home to me: poems across America. Illus. by Stephen Alcorn. New York, NY: Orchard Books.

I don't know about everyone else but peas are my least favorite vegetable. I probably would have been elated when this poem happened, especially when the result was going to be pea-soup! It even looked horrible - such an icky color of green!


on the sidewalk
outside of Nellie's Deli
split peas
from a
plastic bag

A pea-green

that were
supposed to be
our pea-soup

Students could develop a book of recipes for vegetables that they normally don't like except when cooked or prepared one favorite way. This book could then be sent home for the parents and students to try. Some of them might be prepared and brought in for a sampling by the class. This could be done by groups rather than each child bringing a dish. Each group could be responsible for one recipe out of the recipe book they made.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett, ed. 2000. Yummy! eating through a day. Illus. by Rene'e Flower. New York. NY: Simon & Schuster.

Links I found on my poet:

Elizabeth McNutt 2003.