Youngest Inaugural Poet in History Impresses. Lesson Plans Available for Amanda Gorman's "The Hill We Climb."

Educators can teach Amanda Gorman's inauguration poem "The Hill We Climb" and share Gorman's story with students.

Amanda Gorman at the Biden Inauguration

The 59th U.S. presidential inauguration will be remembered for many things, including the swearing in of the country’s first woman vice president. But it was the performance of Amanda Gorman that prompted some of the biggest response. The youngest inaugural poet in history, Gorman, 22, moved those watching in person and at home with her original composition “The Hill We Climb.”

Gorman—named the first ever Youth Poet Laureate of the United States in 2017—joins a list that includes Robert Frost and Maya Angelou as poets selected for the inauguration.

Raised in Los Angeles, Gorman says she learned the importance of literacy and giving young people voice from her mother, a teacher. The Harvard graduate also becomes a part of the kid lit community in September with the release two books. Change Sings: A Children's Anthem about a young girl and “cast of characters” on a musical journey that teaches them they have the power to create change is a picture book illustrated by Loren Long. The YA title The Hill We Climb: Poems is her first first poetry collection. But before librarians can add either book to their collections, educators can teach Gorman’s inaugural poem right now.

Multiple lesson plans have already been released for “The Hill We Climb.” The PBS Newshour lesson is for grades 6-12 and is cross curricular. The Teaching Tolerance lesson has teachers ask students to not only break down Gorman’s poem for its meaning, but to consider how creative expressions can help people think about democracy. it also takes a look at the historical choices for inaugural poet and why presidents made those selections. The New York Times' Learning Network made Gorman and her composition its "Lesson of the Day."

Gorman appeared at the recommendation of First Lady Jill Biden, who saw the poet's recitation of one of her poems at the Library of Congress. 

In the hours after the ceremony, Twitter was filled with praise for Gorman. Author and poet Nikki Grimes wrote, “That poem. That poem! "...a nation that isn't broken, but simply unfinished...we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us...there is always light, if we are brave enough to see it, if we are brave enough to be it." Yes. Yes. Yes.”

"Shouts to the young genius," wrote Jason Reynolds.

Fellow writers weren't the only ones impressed.

"On a day for the history books, @TheAmandaGorman delivered a poem that more than met the moment," former president Barack Obama tweeted. "Young people like her are proof that 'there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it; if only we're brave enough to be it.'"

Said Michelle Obama, “With her strong and poignant words, @TheAmandaGorman reminds us of the power we each hold in upholding our democracy. Keep shining, Amanda! I can't wait to see what you do next. #BlackGirlMagic

Hillary Clinton tweeted, “Wasn't @TheAmandaGorman’s poem just stunning? She's promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can't wait.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote simply, “YES @theamandagorman.” In response, Gorman asked if Miranda noticed the poem's two references to his Broadway show, Hamilton. “I couldn’t help myself,” she tweeted to Miranda, who responded, “You were perfect. Perfectly written, perfectly delivered. Every bit of it. Brava! -LMM”

And Oprah, a friend of Angelou who sent the earrings and a ring with a caged bird that Gorman wore to the inauguration, offered this: “I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”


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Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (, @karayorio) is news editor at School Library Journal.

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Pamela Inskeep

She is an incredibly talented young woman. It will be interesting to see how her poetry influences change in our society, because she has a strong empowered female voice, a "louding voice."

Posted : Feb 11, 2021 02:03

michelle leemer


Posted : Feb 01, 2021 10:15

Kathy VanDeventer

I loved her poem!

Posted : Jan 21, 2021 08:24

Heather Campbell

🔥powerful voice 🌟this young lady has only just begun

Posted : Jan 21, 2021 04:39



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