'How to Read a Book' named 2020 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Winner

February 17, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State University Libraries and the Pennsylvania Center for the Book have announced the 2020 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 “How to Read a Book” written by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books.   

How to Read a Book, cover art
IMAGE: Cover image provided by publisher

Comments from the judges include, “Open the pages of Kwame Alexander’s ‘How to Read a Book' and taste the irresistible allure of words. In this poetry for the palate, the author takes you page by page through the joys of reading. Melissa Sweet’s captivating and complex collage illustrations add visual appetizers, desserts, and midnight snacks as you discover treat after added treat along the way. Get ready for a feast! Your eyes and ears will thank you.” 

Alexander will accept the award and the $1,000 prize, courtesy of Lee Bennett Hopkins, at Penn State’s University Park campus in the fall. 

Additionally, judges gave honor awards to “You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks,” written and illustrated by Evan Turk, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga, published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books. 

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 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, which is selected by a panel of authors, librarians, teachers and scholars.  

The 2020 judges for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award were Marjorie Maddox, chair, author, professor of English and creative writing at Lock Haven University; Michelle F. Bayuk, Springfield, New Jersey; René M Rodríguez-Astacio, doctoral candidate in curriculum and instruction, children's literature, Penn State; Junko Sakoi, teacher educator, Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, Arizona; Bina Williams, Bridgeport Public Library, North Branch Librarian II, Youth Services, Wallingford Connecticut.

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 also administers the Public Poetry Project, the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, Poems from LifeA Baker’s Dozen: The Best Children’s Books for Family LiteracyWordstruck: Micro Essays on Literature that Redefined You, an essay contest for Pennsylvania students in grades 10-12, and the interactive Literary & Cultural Heritage Map of Pennsylvania

For more information about the Hopkins Award, contact Caroline Wermuth at cvw1@psu.edu or 814-863-5472, or visit the Pennsylvania Center for the Book website. 

  • Other Words for Home, cover art

    “Other Words for Home” by Jasmine Warga, published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books, was selected as one of two honor books by judges of the 2020 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.

    IMAGE: cover image provided by publisher
  • You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks, cover art

    "You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks" written and illustrated by Evan Turk, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, was selected as one of two honor books by judges of the 2020 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.

    IMAGE: cover image provided by publisher
  • Kwame Alexander, photo

    Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, Newberry medal winner and New York Times Bestselling author of 32 books including "How to Read a Book," illustrated by Melissa Sweet and published by HarperCollins Children's Books.

    Read more ›
    IMAGE: Gary Gershoff
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Last Updated February 17, 2020