Writer, editor and educator Lee Bennett Hopkins, "a devoted promoter of poetry for children," died August 8, the News-Press reported. He was 81. "Everybody in the world of children's literature seemed to know Lee Bennett Hopkins, the renowned Cape Coral poet and Florida Hall of Famer... His many friends included famous authors such as Judy Blume, Shel Silverstein, Lloyd Alexander, R.L. Stine and even the late Dr. Seuss (Hopkins called him 'Ted')."
Hopkins's interest in poetry as a classroom educational tool led to his work as a classroom resource coordinator. He was also an editor at Scholastic before becoming a full-time writer and editor of anthologies, compiling more than 100 anthologies of poetry for children.
His own poetry collections for children include Been to Yesterdays: Poems of a Life (1995), which won the Christopher Medal and a Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Golden Kite Honor Award; Alphathoughts: Alphabet Poems (2003); and City I Love (2009). In 2018, he collaborated with the Metropolitan Museum of Art on World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum. He has two books coming out later this year, including one about diversity and another titled Blessings for Pets.
"How much everybody loved him!" said Hopkins's husband, Charles Egita. "Everybody loved him. And he helped so many people get started. I called him the Pied Piper of Poetry. Because that's what he was."
On the Horn Book blog, Roger Sutton wrote: "I was sorry to hear about the death this morning of Lee Bennett Hopkins. With his own work, his anthologies, and his nurturing of new poets, is there anyone who has done more for American children's poetry than Lee? A fuller appreciation of Lee's achievements will follow, but today I want to share with you a letter Lee wrote to the Horn Book back in 1990. He truly saw capital-P poetry as something for everyone and was a tireless advocate on its behalf. We will miss him."