Back to Blog

Poor Richard’s Almanack was first published on December 28, 1733

Curious about the NCTE and Library of Congress connection? Through a grant announced recently by NCTE Executive Director Emily Kirkpatrick, NCTE is engaged in new ongoing work with the Library of Congress, and “will connect the ELA community with the Library of Congress to expand the use of primary sources in teaching.” Stay tuned for more throughout the year!

In 1733, Benjamin Franklin, using the pseudonym Richard Saunders, began publishing Poor Richard’s Almanack, which included agricultural predictions, charts of the moon’s phases, and a series of proverbs, such as “haste makes waste.” Franklin, acknowledged as one of America’s Founding Fathers, especially for his role as a statesman, continued to publish his Almanack until 1758.

Share some of the following proverbs taken from Poor Richard’s Almanack with your students:

  • There are no gains without pains.
  • At the working man’s house, hunger looks in but dares not enter.
  • Industry pays debts while despair increases them.
  • Plough deep while sluggards sleep and you shall have corn to sell and to keep.
  • One today is worth two tomorrows.
  • Have you something to do tomorrow? Do it today.
  • Trouble springs from idleness and grievous toil from needless ease.
  • The noblest question in the world is: What good may I do in it?
  • Hear no ill of a friend, nor speak any of an enemy

Ask students to give their impressions of the person who would write these statements. Then, have students choose one saying, paraphrase it, and explain why they agree or disagree with its message. As a final activity, ask students to write their own mottos for life. These mottos can be illustrated and displayed in the classroom or made into bumper stickers or T-shirts.

Read on to learn more about Benjamin Franklin.