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May 31

Today is Walt Whitman's birthday.

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Today is Walt Whitman's birthday.





American poet Walt Whitman was born on Long Island, New York, in 1819. In 1855, Whitman self-published the first edition of Leaves of Grass. Several editions of the book, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2005, were later published. Whitman wrote other important works, including "O Captain! My Captain!," which was a response to the death of Abraham Lincoln. Walt Whitman died on March 26, 1892.




Invite your students to write and illustrate their own children's stories, using the text from a Walt Whitman poem. First, have students read Whitman's poem "Miracles," from Leaves of Grass. Next, share the picture book Nothing But Miracles, which features the text of the poem. Have a volunteer read the story to the class, and then as a group, discuss the book's illustrations.

  • How do the illustrations enhance the telling of this story?
  • How did the experience of reading this poem with illustrations differ from reading it without illustration?

After discussing the book, have students select Whitman poems that would make good children's picture books. Have students create illustrations for the poems they select and then publish their books. Share the books with a primary classroom in your school or district. You might also have your students create digital storybooks to share on the Web.



  • Walt Whitman

    The Academy of American Poets presents this profile of Whitman, with a bibliography of his works and links to selected poems.

  • The Walt Whitman Archive

    The Walt Whitman Archive offers manuscripts, correspondence, biographical information, images, and other resources related to Walt Whitman and his work.

  • Walt Whitman

    This Learner.org feature provides brief biographical information about Walt Whitman. Also included is a video clip of Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, along with links to related resources.

  • Revising Himself: Walt Whitman and Leaves of Grass

    The Library of Congress offers this online exhibit exploring Whitman's life and work through primary source materials, such as journals, letters, photographs, and etchings.


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Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Varying Views of America

Students work together to analyze three poems about America with varying points of view.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Minilesson

You're the Top! Pop Culture Then and Now

Students analyze the lyrics to Cole Porter's "You're the Top!" and then update them to include current "tops" in pop culture.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Walt Whitman as a Model Poet: "I Hear My School Singing"

Students first analyze Walt Whitman's "I Hear America Singing," then use Whitman's poem as a model as they create their own list poems.


Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Writing Free Verse in the "Voice" of Cesar Chavez

Poetry and politics combine in this lesson where students write a free verse poem in the voice of Cesar Chavez.