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Summer Reading: These Informative books reveal the authors' passion for writing and subject area expertise. Teachers of the gifted, their students and parents will learn a great deal from reading them during the summer - and beyond.


Bauer, Susan Wise. (2003). The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. New York: Norton.

Brockman, John, Editor. (2004). Curious Minds: How a Child Becomes a Scientist. New York: Pantheon.

Colangelo, Nicholas, Assouline, Susan G., & Gross, Miraca U. M. (2004). A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America's Brightest Students (Volumes I-II). Iowa City: The University of Iowa.

Davidson, Jan & Bob with Vanderkam, Laura. (2004). Genius Denied: How to Stop Wasting Our Brightest Young Minds: What You and Your School Can Do For Your Gifted Child. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Oppenheimer, Todd. (2003). The Flickering Mind: The False Promise of Technology in the Classroom and How Learning Can Be Saved. New York: Random House.

Silverman, Linda Kreger. (2002). Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual Spatial Learner. Denver: DeLeon Publishing.

Smutny, Joan Franklin, Editor. (2003). Underserved Gifted Populations: Responding to Their Needs and Abilities. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.


Bolles, Edmund Blair. (2004). Einstein Defiant: Genius versus Genius in the Quantum Revolution. Washington, D.C.: Joseph Henry Press.

Greene, Brian. (2004). The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality. New York: Knopf.

Hawking, Stephen, Editor. (2002). On the Shoulders of Giants: The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy. Philadelphia: Running Press.

Jones, Jill. (2003). Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and the Race to Electrify the World. New York: Random House.

Singh, Simon. (2004). Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe. New York: HarperCollins.

Tallack, Peter (Editor). (2003). The Science Book: 250 Milestones in the History of Science. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.


Ackroyd, Peter. (2000). London: The Biography. New York: Anchor Books.

Asimov, Janet Jeppson. (2002). Isaac Asimov: It's Been a Good Life. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.

Buckley Jr., William F. (2004). Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography. Washington, D.C.: Regnery.

Ellis, Joseph J. (2004). His Excellency: George Washington. New York: Knopf.

Gawande, Atul. (2002). Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science. New York: Picador.

Goldsmith, Barbara. (2005). Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie. New York: Norton.

Honan, Park. (1998). Shakespeare: A Life. New York: Oxford University Press.

Isaacson, Walter. (2003). Benjamin Franklin : An American Life. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Jardine, Lisa. (2004). The Curious Life of Robert Hooke: The Man Who Measured London. New York: HarperCollins.

Keegan, John. (2002). Winston Churchill. New York: Penguin.

Márquez, Gabriel García. (2003). Living to Tell the Tale. New York: Knopf.

McCullough, David. (2001). John Adams. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Rhodes, Richard. (2004). John James Audubon: The Making of An American. New York: Knopf.

Smith, Chari R. (2003). Extraordinary Women from U.S. History: Readers Theatre for Grades 4-8. Portsmouth, NH: Teacher Ideas Press.

Tyson, Neil deGrasse. (2004). The Sky Is Not The Limit: Adventures of An Urban Astrophysicist. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books.


Lamb, Brian, Editor. (2002). Booknotes: Stories from American History, Leading Historians on the Events that Shaped our Country. New York: Penguin.

McPherson, James M. (2003). Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg. New York: Crown.

Ravitch, Diane, Editor. (2000). The American Reader: Words that Moved a Nation. New York: HarperCollins.

Winchester, Simon. (2003). The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary. New York: Oxford University Press.


Nicholi, Armand. (2003). The Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud Debate God, Love, Sex, and the Meaning of Life. New York: Free Press.

Phillips, Christopher. (2001). Socrates Café: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy. New York: Norton.

Phillips, Christopher. (2004). Six Questions of Socrates: A Modern-Day Journey of Discovery through World Philosophy. New York: Norton.


Truss, Lynne. (2003). Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. New York: Gotham Books.


Socratic Themes in Leaves of Grass

By Michael E. Walters

Center for the Study of the Humanities in the Schools

"All truths wait in all things," (from the 150th Anniversary Signet Classics Edition, p. 49)

What could be more fitting than to discuss Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass (1855-92) in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the original publication of this American poetry masterpiece. It is important for gifted students to study this poem because of its influence on literature and social thought. Whitman (1819-92) influenced not only future American poets (e.g., Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, Vachel Lindsay, Langston Hughes, and Allen Ginsberg) but he also had an impact on poets worldwide (e.g., the Chilean Pablo Neruda and the Russian Yevgeny Yevtushenko). In 1992 I had the privilege of visiting Whitman's last residence located in Camden, New Jersey. The guest book included the names of many of America's greatest poets.

I will use the technique of "cataloging" or "listing" to discuss Leaves of Grass. My catalogue will be a teaching list of eight Socratic themes derived from Whitman's poetry: (1) He sought to be the representative American, and yet he also had a universal human interest. He felt he was expressing himself in the language of a democratic personality. However, he constantly used the word "cosmos" which was composed of nature, human sexuality, longing for love, and the problems of freedom in society; (2) Diversity was important for Whitman because of his acceptance of human experience ranging from everyday working people (e.g., mechanics and farmers) to artists such as operatic singers and sculptors; (3) He emphasized the concept of equality and how it defines the American experience. He based his vision of American democracy on equality of opportunity and the idea that every individual should be free to develop their unique gifted sensibilities (multiple intelligences); (4) He was sensitive to the environment, and aware that the lessons of nature were crucial for the maintenance of health; (5) He was concerned with the dilemma of war. Although Whitman was an abolitionist - he was once an editor of a Free Soil newspaper in New York - he was disturbed by the human cost of the Civil War. His feeling for human suffering was derived from personal encounters with wounded and suffering soldiers while working as a male nurse in Washington, D.C. and on Virginia battlefields; (6) He stressed political leadership as shown in his poetic cycle in response to Lincoln's assassination, e.g., When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd and O Captain! My Captain!; (7) Whitman had a strong religious sense. His Quaker background was very important to his way of viewing the world; and (8) His language is similar to a Buberian dialogue (I-Thou relationship) that reflects constant interaction between the poet and the reader. One doesn't just read Whitman - one relives his experiences. The following poems are examples of Socratic themes and Buberian dialogue that gifted students can find in Whitman's work:


When I read the book, tbe biography famous,

And is this then (said I) what the author calls a man's life?

And so will some one when I am dead and gone write my


(As if any man really knew aught of my life,

Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of

                       my real life,

Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections

I seek for my own use to trace out here.)


Look down fair moon and bathe this scene,

Pour softly down night's nimbus floods on faces ghastly,

                                 swollen, purple,

On the dead on their backs with arms toss'd wide,

Pour down your unstinted nimbus sacred moon.

(Both poems are from the 150th Anniversary Signet Classics Edition of Leaves of Grass, pp. 7 and 271 respectively.)

Maurice D. Fisher, Publisher, Copyright © by Gifted Education Press, June-July 2005