George Moses Horton loves words more than anything else. But despite this dedication to the beauty of language, George faces many challenges in learning how to read and write the words he is so curious about.

George is a slave growing up in Chatham County, North Carolina. Although reading is not common among slaves, George listens to his master’s children as they learn their ABCs, he studies a hymnal given to him by his mother, and he absorbs words spoken in sermons and read from the Bible. George learns more and more each day and he quickly develops a love for poetry. Eventually, after much hard work and dedication, George becomes the first African-American man to publish a book in the South.

At its heart, Poet is an inspirational story. The book highlights many historical events and shows how each event affects George’s life. His perseverance is timeless and in reading this book, your eyes will be opened to a lesser-known, yet incredible, piece of history. George is able to express the injustices and heartbreaks he has endured through his poetry, and it eventually becomes his only solace. This story is a remarkable one, and it eases young readers into understanding slavery, how it worked, and how many people suffered greatly from it. George’s story is unique, and it seems only fitting that it be expressed—finally—in the words he valued above all else.

Click here for the full summary of Poet and here for the full teacher’s guide.