Poetry Friday: Happy Birthday, First Lady of the World


“We must cherish and honor the word free or it will cease to apply to us.”

Eleanor Roosevelt was born on this day in 1884 and the United Nations has declared October 11 International Day of the Girl. No date could be more appropriate. After an unhappy childhood, Eleanor Roosevelt became a passionate, dedicated advocate for human rights around the world.

public domain image from http://www.whitehouse.gov

J. Patrick Lewis honored Roosevelt and her spirit in this poem, from his 2005 collection, Vherses: A Celebration of Outstanding Women (Creative Editions).

You Learn by Living

for Eleanor Roosevelt

Who showed the world the world itself

Was awkward, shy and plain.

A high-born leader in a long,

Low decade full of pain.

A lady first, the great first lady

Looked fear in the face,

And said, There is no room for fear

When courage take its place

Read the entire poem here.

Many books have been written about Eleanor and her remarkable life. Russell Freedman’s Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery is featured today at Anita Silvey’s Children’s Book-a-Day AlmanacEleanor, Quiet No More: The Life of Eleanor Roosevelt (Disney/Hyperion Books, 2009) is Doreen Rappaport’s picture book biography for younger readers. A list of more titles about Eleanor is available at Through the Looking Glass.

Roosevelt once said “It is better to light candles than curse the darkness.” Eleanor Roosevelt’s inspiring life story is certain to spark the imagination of readers everywhere.

Don’t forget to visit Laurie Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids for the weekly round up. Happy Friday, everyone!

6 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Happy Birthday, First Lady of the World

  1. One of my heroes…reading about her life never fails to inspire me. No too long ago, I visited Valkill, in Hyde Park, N.Y. and saw yet another side to this remarkable woman. Thanks for sharing the resources list, too.


  2. I love reading about Eleanor R., Catherine, & seeing those PBS documentaries about her too. I don’t know this poem, so thanks for them. In fact the whole book of vherses must be wonderful!


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