Walt Whitman: Words for America


Travel with Walt through a young America, experience his life-altering work in the Civil War, and discover there are many ways to love and honor your country.

Illustrated by Brian Selznick

Published by Scholastic Press, 2004

ISBN 0-439-35791-8

Find this book: IndieBound, B&N, amazon, and goodreads

Sibert Honor Book

California Book Award

ALA Notable Book

Best Children’s Books -- Publishers Weekly

Best Illustrated Books -- New York Times

Best Book Award -- Oppenheim Toy Portfolio

100 Titles for Reading and Sharing -- New York Public Library

Nominated for Young Reader Awards in Kentucky, New Mexico, and Tennessee

"An exuberant picture-book biography that focuses on Whitman's formative years and his selfless work as a Civil War nurse.  Delightfully old-fashioned in design, its oversized pages are replete with graceful illustrations and snippets of poetry.  The brilliantly inventive  paintings add vibrant testimonial to the nuanced text."

                                                                School Library Journal, starred review

"A visual and textual portrait of America's most revolutionary and celebrated poet.  Kerley distills Whitman's wide-ranging biography, centering on the significant themes of his life: his passion for words, America, and the common man, as well as his torment over race, democracy, and the Civil War.... Depicting Whitman as both a literal and metaphorical journeyman, Selznick paints him hiking with the pages of his habitual notebooks floating around him, each with a word from his poetry, graphically bursting the boundaries of convention.... A cultural force rendered with power and immediacy for a new generation."

                                                                        Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"With a lyricism and an ardor that echoes Whitman's own, Kerley writes of his passion for both language and for "rambling".... Selznick's versatile illustrations encompass a stark realism...and surreal whimsy.... Their enthusiasm is convincing and contagious."

                                                                Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Splendid."  Horn Book

"Vibrant."  New York Times

"Outstanding."  San Francisco Chronicle

Did you know?...

Walt loved to ramble.  While he rambled, he often made notes about what he saw on handmade, pocket-sized notebooks.  You can make a notebook just like Walt did by making a stack of pocket-sized pieces of paper, punching a couple holes on one edge, and then binding the pages together with a piece of ribbon or string.  Then get out there and explore -- and write down what you see.