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March 12

On this date in 1901, Andrew Carnegie gave $5.2 million to New York City libraries.

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On this date in 1901, Andrew Carnegie gave $5.2 million to New York City libraries.

Grades 3 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Historical Figure & Event





Andrew Carnegie, at one time the richest man in America, was born in Scotland in 1835 and emigrated when he was 13. After making his fortune in railroads, telegraphs, oil, and steel, Carnegie retired in 1901, dedicating his last years to philanthropy. In addition to the donation to NYC libraries, Carnegie helped establish over 2,500 public libraries, as well as teacher pensions, research foundations, and peace endowments. By the time he died in 1919, Carnegie had given away nearly $325,000,000.




With Carnegie's gift in mind, today would be a perfect day for students to practice their expository writing and/or persuasive writing skills.

For expository writing: Carnegie was often referred to as the "Patron Saint of Libraries." Why were libraries so important to him? Although Carnegie was interested in giving, he didn't like "charity."  Instead, he was interested in programs that would help people help themselves. Ask students to explain how funding libraries would be a good way to further the cause of "helping people help themselves." For younger students, ask them to write about at least two ways the library could help them learn important information or skills.

For persuasive writing: Ask students to imagine that they are writing to the Carnegie Foundation in order to fund a project at their school. They should identify a specific need at their school and then convince the donors that their school deserves this money. Writing should include specific information about how the money would be used to benefit their school.

If students write both the expository and persuasive pieces, ask them to compare the essential features of the two modes of writing. Students may find ReadWriteThink's Persuasion Map and Essay Map interactives useful for this activity.



  • The Richest Man in the World: Andrew Carnegie

    This resource is the companion website to the PBS' The American Experience show on Carnegie.

  • Carnegie For Kids

    Background information and present activities of the Carnegie Foundation can be found here, written in student-friendly language.

  • Elements of Grant Writing

    The Elements of Grant Writing guide is a compilation of tips, timelines, and templates from a variety of grant-writing experts and funders designed to aid investigators in successfully applying for grants from federal, foundation, and corporate sources.

  • Persuasive Writing Websites

    There are over 30 different lesson plans and classroom resources about teaching persuasive writing in this collection provided by the Kent School District.


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Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Can You Convince Me? Developing Persuasive Writing

Through a classroom game and resource handouts, students learn about the techniques used in persuasive oral arguments and apply them to independent persuasive writing activities.


Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Persuading an Audience: Writing Effective Letters to the Editor

Students use persuasive writing and an understanding of the characteristics of letters to the editor to compose effective letters to the editor on topics of interest to them.


Grades   K – 2  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Persuasive Writing: What Can Writing in Family Message Journals Do for Students?

This lesson engages children in using writing to their families as a persuasive tool to get what they want and need.


Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Exploring Cause and Effect Using Expository Texts About Natural Disasters

Students explore the nature and structure of expository texts that focus on cause and effect and apply what they learned using graphic organizers and writing paragraphs to outline cause-and-effect relationships.