Thanks to Professor Carmen Kynard (Texas Christian University) for her contributions and recommendations for the content on this page. Learn more from Dr. Kynard about teaching with Phillis Wheatley Peters.
Watch: In this video, learn more about the life and works of Phillis Wheatley Peters. From Encyclopedia Britannica.
Watch: In this video, Charita Gainey details the works of poet Phillis Wheatley. Directed by Gavin Edwards, Movult.
Watch: In this video, a collection of short films adapted from poems by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, the life of Phillis Wheatley Peters is dramatized and brought to life through poetry and theatre. Directed by John Oluwole ADEkoje and produced by Patrick Gabridge.
This book may require further knowledge-building around the following: abolition, John Hancock, and Thomas Jefferson. In response to this book, have students write poetry about their own reverence for family and heritage.
We imagine that the opening pages of this book will be especially difficult for young students (as it is, in fact, difficult for adults to hear of such trauma also). This book does a good job of explaining things slowly. There are TEN one-page chapters with an illustration for each chapter in the book. We recommend accompanying a read-aloud of each chapter with a follow-up discussion and writing and drawing activities.
The book opens by imagining a group of men who quiz Wheatley so she can prove that she can write. To sell the books of Wheatley Peters, the "founding fathers" offered an attestation of Wheatley Peters as author. Perhaps, students can discuss what they think of the need for Wheatley Peters's work to be endorsed. Perhaps with a partner, they can write a letter/endorsement of sorts that claims the unequivocal importance of Wheatley Peters's poetry.
This 80-page book for younger middle school readers and writers tells about the life of Phillis Wheatley Peters. It includes over fifteen black and white images that act as primary source material. It especially highlights Wheatley Peters's life in the context of the American Revolution.
This 64-page book for younger middle school readers and writers tells about the life of Phillis Wheatley Peters. It includes over eleven black-and-white, beautifully drawn illustrations.
This 120-page book is written as historical fiction and tells about the life of Phillis Wheatley Peters. Chapter eight of this book connects the American Revolution with Wheatley Peters's poem: "To the Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth." In the chapter, Phillis reads the poem aloud and thereby introduces readers to the actual words of the poem. Have students watch a dramatization of "To the Right Honorable William, Earl of Dartmouth." This is a video that includes reflections on the appointment of William, Earl of Dartmouth, by Phillis Wheatley, 1772, and the 1773 Petition for Manumission from Felix to Governor Hutchinson. Follow-up discussions might ask students to think about the ways Wheatley Peters's experience of slavery influences her discussion of liberty. Students might also read from the famous American poet, Cornelius Eady, who wrote a poem in honor of the mother Phillis never saw again. Perhaps, students might write a poem to her mother or family the way Cornelius Eady has.
This 48-page book for middle school readers and writers tells about the life of Phillis Wheatley Peters. It begins with her life in slavery and ends in 1774 by describing how well Wheatley Peters's books sold. This book presents the story of Phillis Wheatley Peters's life in an engaging narrative. It ends with the arrival of a shipment of 300 of her books to Boston in 1774. Had the books arrived a few months later, no one would have been able to retrieve them since the Boston Harbor was blockaded. Ten years later, in 1784, Wheatley wrote "Liberty and Peace." Follow-up discussions and writing activities could focus on this final poem and the ways students might imagine how Wheatley Peters reached these later reflections.
This 352-page book tells about the life of Phillis Wheatley Peters and is written especially for young adults. The genre is historical fiction and can be incorporated across humanities and social science classrooms. This book might serve as a good text for literature circles or can be excerpted for a whole class.
This 152-page book tells about the life of Phillis Wheatley Peters and is written especially for young adults. It is told from the voice of Phillis Wheatley Peters and opens by imagining her African family as possible griots given her brilliance with words. Students might also examine the difficulty of assuming first-person narration. The genre is historical fiction and can be incorporated across humanities and social science classrooms. This book might serve as a good text for literature circles or can be excerpted for a whole class.
This 96-page book has been packaged for young people and includes the poems of Phillis Wheatley Peters alongside letters and the much contested Memoir. This book closes with a much-contested memoir by Margaretta Matilda Odell's who calls herself "a collateral descendant of Mrs. Wheatley" who has been familiar with the name and fame of Phillis from her childhood." Follow-up discussions and writing activities might critically question this Memoir.