Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman – Using Her Special Gifts to Transform the World!

You may have seen Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old poet, recite her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the recent Presidential Inauguration Ceremony.  Her words and performance were spectacular and were acclaimed across the world.  But what is even more spectacular is the story of how Amanda arrived at this moment and the lessons she offers other kids around the world.

Amanda Gorman’s Childhood

Amanda was raised by a single mother, Joan Wicks, in Los Angeles.  There was very limited television watching in their house growing up.  Instead, Amanda enjoyed reading and writing and was encouraged by her mother, who was a teacher.  She gained confidence in these areas. Her passion for poetry started when she about 8 years old.

But despite her interests and talents, she had some obstacles. Amanda has an auditory processing disorder and is very sensitive to sound. She also had a speech impediment during childhood. This caused her to participate in speech therapy which helped her to turn her obstacles into gifts and strengths. As she told The Harvard Gazette in 2018, “I always saw it as a strength because since I was experiencing these obstacles in terms of my auditory and vocal skills, I became really good at reading and writing.”

Amanda’s confidence flourished. She started to dream of becoming president when she was in 6th grade. As Amanda became more confident, she became more driven to transform the world for good. Amanda took an interest in causes related to oppression and race.  She went on to earn a degree at Harvard University. And then, Amanda became the world’s first Youth Poet Laureate in history!

Amanda Gorman Today

More recently, Amanda became the youngest person ever to recite a poem at a Presidential inauguration! Her words in “The Hill We Climb” inspired a nation in need of unity.  A country that recently has been experiencing division and troubles.  As she recited, “We lift our gazes not to what stands between us but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first. We must first put our differences aside.”

While Amanda looked calm, cool, and collected at the inauguration, she admits she is always nervous, like many of us, about public speaking.  To combat this, she developed a “mantra” that she recites to give herself confidence in moments of doubt: “I am the daughter of Black writers. We are descended from freedom fighters who broke through chains and changed the world. They call me.”

Here is Amanda reciting “The Hill We Climb”:

Learn about Amanda Garner’s path from childhood:

Amanda Garner shares how she builds her confidence for public speaking:

What’s next for Amanda?  She is promoting 3 best selling books that she has published.  And she has her sights set on running for President of the United States in 2036!  As Amanda once told Glamour Magazine, “Seeing the ways that I as a young black woman can inspire people is something I want to continue in politics. I don’t want to just speak works; I want to turn them into realities and actions.”

Amanda is a shining example of the power of one person, through their attitude and perseverance, to overcome fears and turn obstacles into strengths.  And use their gifts and talents for good.  Learn more about Amanda below and think about how you can transform the world!

Additional Resources:

Topics for Discussion:

  • What character traits define Amanda Gorman?
  • How is Amanda inspired?
  • What inspires you about Amanda?
  • Do you know someone who has overcome an obstacle to help become the best version of themself?

Take Action:

  • Do you have any obstacles holding you back?  Think about what they are and come up with a plan to overcome them.  Discuss this with your family and/or teachers.
  • What do you love to do?  How can this help others?  Think about this and start doing it!

Teacher Features:

  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for elementary school students.
  • Here is a link to a Critical Reading Skills worksheet that you can use for middle school students.
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