Change Sings Literature Guide
This book by poet and activist Amanda Gorman sings with optimism for our personal power to make a difference for a better world. It is a celebration of change through grace and vision. In this "children's anthem," Gorman inspires us to act with our personal gifts while collectively being the best we can be. With images of famous people and musical instruments, the artist illustrates the beauty of individuals of diverse backgrounds coming together as one in community. Amanda Gorman is an African American youth poet laureate, born with a speech impediment and sensitivity to sound, who is now speaking eloquently with hope that we can all take action for a better world.
Ask: An anthem is an uplifting song that is identified with a group of people. What do you think a children's anthem might be about? How can change sing?
Show: Look at the cover and title. Look at the mosaic in the background. A mosaic is a picture made up of little pieces. While you are reading, think about why a mosaic is a good image for the big idea.
Connect: What is a big change you have been part of? Maybe you moved, changed the way you attend school, or grew out of a favorite shirt. Changes can feel hard when you lose something or have to learn a new way of doing things. Change can be exciting because the new way is better or interesting. What is a change that feels good, and what is a change that feels difficult? The author says she does not fear change.
Ask: What are some things the characters are doing to make change happen for a better world? What do you think will make a better world?
Show: Look at the picture where the characters are building a wheelchair ramp. The author contrasts building a fence to building a bridge. What does that mean to you?
Connect: We all have "strengths and smarts" to make change. The author says, "I am just what the world needs." What are some of the things you are good at that could be used to help others?
Ask: Look back at all the ways the author describes how her change sings, for example, with love and a roar. How can all those words describe working toward community with people who are all different in some ways and all the same in other ways?
Show: Look at the picture of the kids playing instruments on the mural at the end of the book. In what small detail do you see yourself?
Connect: What can you do to "sing along" with the change that is coming?
- Make a mosaic with watercolors like on the cover of the book. Draw shapes with a black pen or marker, use different colors of paint to fill in the shapes.
- Take a poll of people of all ages. Ask people if change is scary or exciting. Keep track of the answers. You can take notes about what they say. Count up the answers and write a summary of what you learned.
- Draw a picture of a musical instrument that is most like you. Maybe you're like the sound, its place in the band, or its shape. What do you have in common with the musical instrument?
- Listen to or read other poems by Amanda Gorman. The Miracle of Morning written to find positivity during the pandemic, The Hill We Climb shared at the presidential inauguration, and Earthrise about protecting the environment.
- What might the world look like in ten years if an issue you care about is fixed? Try to imagine what the world would be like with this "Blue Sky" activity from Learning to Give and take a step to make the world better.
- Make a poster illustrating these words from Amanda Gorman's poem, "The Hill We Climb":
“There is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it. If only we're brave enough to be it.”