Poor Richard's Almanack was first published in 1733.
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.
- Many a man thinks he is buying pleasure when he is really selling himself a slave to it.
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.
This site pairs Franklin's quotes with a "translation" into verse. The quotes are arranged by topic and can also be searched through an index.
Gettysburg College offers electronic access to pages from the original Almanack. Additional pages are also available.
This webpage developed by PBS is part of their Benjamin Franklin resource. It offers information about Franklin's satirical writing style and the humor found in Poor Richard's Almanack.
While devoted to science and technology rather than reading per se, this institution promotes discovery and ongoing inquiry-the cornerstones of an inquiry-based classroom. Included is a list of resources for studying Franklin.