Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Skinny Dip with Lee Bennett Hopkins

Lee Bennett Hopkins

You can­not be a part of the chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture com­mu­ni­ty with­out know­ing his name. Lee Ben­nett Hop­kins has been writ­ing for chil­dren and adults since 1968. His Books Are by Peo­ple (1969) had a pro­found effect on me. With his antholo­gies, he has kept our eyes focused on poet­ry, know­ing how much chil­dren love the images and emo­tions evoked by well-cho­sen words.

Who was your favorite teacher in grades K‑7 and why?

My 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Ethel Kite McLaugh­lin at South Eighth Street School in Newark, New Jer­sey,  a woman who saw some­thing in the mixed-up kid I was and turned my life around. I don’t know where I would have gone with my life if it was­n’t for her inter­est in me. She led me to the arts — the­atre, music, lit­er­a­ture. What a gift she gave me.

When did you first start read­ing books?

As ear­ly as first grade when I final­ly con­quered “Dick and Jane!”

Your favorite day­dream?

To see the human race as one with every­one get­ting along with one anoth­er, respect­ing all dif­fer­ences.

Lee Bennett Hopkins, Walt Whitman, Carl Sandburg, Langston HughesDin­ner par­ty at your favorite restau­rant with peo­ple liv­ing or dead: where is it and who’s on the guest list?

At a mod­er­ate cof­fee shop per­haps with sticky plas­tic table­cloths, with Walt Whit­man, Carl Sand­burg, Langston Hugh­es — and me pick­ing up the tab!

All-time favorite book?

An impos­si­ble ques­tion to answer for one whose life has been both read­ing and cre­at­ing books.

Favorite break­fast or lunch as a kid?

What­ev­er we had in the apart­ment if we were lucky enough to have any­thing.

What’s your least favorite chore?

Fil­ing, fil­ing, fil­ing.

What’s your favorite part of start­ing a new project?

The excite­ment of it.

Born to YesterdaysBare­foot? Socks? Shoes? How would we most often find you at home?

Bare­foot. I hate wear­ing shoes although I know it isn’t the best thing to do. I only wear shoes when I must.

When are you your most cre­ative?

It comes in spurts. I don’t think you can har­ness cre­ativ­i­ty in a time frame.

Your best mem­o­ry of your school library?

Wish­ing we had one!

Favorite fla­vor of ice cream?


Amazing PlacesBook on your bed­side table right now?

BOOK? You must be kid­ding. Which one in the stack is more like­ly a ques­tion!

What’s your hid­den tal­ent?

I’ll nev­er tell.

Your favorite toy as a child …

Not a toy but a phono­graph play­er so I could lis­ten to music.

Best inven­tion in the last 200 years?

The com­put­er.

Days to CelebrateFavorite artist? Why?

Although I love so many of the mas­ters’ works, I love own­ing new pieces by undis­cov­ered artists, many who are pro­duc­ing works beyond descrip­tion.

Which is worse: spi­ders or snakes?


What’s your best con­tri­bu­tion to tak­ing care of the envi­ron­ment?

I recy­cle every­thing.

Why do you feel hope­ful for humankind?

With cur­rent con­di­tions in our polit­i­cal night­mare, I feel right will over­come wrong.

5 Responses to Skinny Dip with Lee Bennett Hopkins

  1. LEE BENNETT HOPKINS August 1, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

    Dear One:

    I did not real­ize how much fun this was until I saw it online. Thank you again for all you do for the world of chil­dren’s lit­er­a­ture.

    • Vicki Palmquist August 4, 2017 at 1:37 pm #

      Thanks to you for giv­ing us the plea­sure of spend­ing this short time with you.

  2. Avi August 4, 2017 at 9:47 am #

    Lee has many won­der­ful skills, and one of them is laugh­ter. I wish I heard it more.

  3. Virginia Euwer Wolff August 4, 2017 at 9:57 am #

    Yours has to be one of the most deli­cious all-guys’ din­ner par­ties I can think of. Four love­ly minds and the cross-fer­til­iza­tion that would hap­pen around that sticky table­cloth: Makes a girl kind of swoon. Thank you for the treat, Lee! And for your gen­er­ous gifts to us all.

  4. Laura Purdie Salas August 4, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

    Love this lit­tle glimpse into some of the things I did NOT know about Lee. His won­der­ful books and con­tri­bu­tions to poet­ry for kids are leg­end:>)

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