Kids Who Die

by Langston Hughes

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Kids Who Die

Step 1

Start by reading “Kids Who Die” by Langston Hughes. As you’re reading, pay close attention to the two opposing forces characterized in the poem. When you’re done, briefly discuss the message of the piece.

Step 2

Ask your students, “Where do you see that poem reflected in the “real world”? Who are the kids who die? And who are the people who “raise their hands against the kids who die”?” Then let them briefly discuss.

Step 3

Say, “Take a few minutes to think about those “kids who die.” What do they look like? What are they dying for? Who opposes them?”

Step 4

Have your students compose a contemporary iteration of “Kids Who Die” that reflects the same meaning and message as the one composed by Hughes in 1938.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Various

Step 1

This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one.

Step 2

Start class by projecting the following image on the board. Ask your students to briefly discuss the implications or message of the piece.

Step 3

Read the poem, “Kids Who Die” by Langston Hughes. While you’re reading, ask your students to pay attention to the similarities in subject matter between the poem and the political cartoon.

Step 4

When you’re done reading, ask your students to identify the central conflict in the piece. Which two opposing forces clash with one another? Why?

Step 5

Ask your students to open the following document and go over the introduction and directions with them. In this assignment, your students are going to assume two different roles and write two letters to a government official – in prose – that reflect the feelings and sentiments of the two conflicting parties in the poem. When you’ve gone over the directions, give your students time to work.

Step 6

When your students are done, simply have your students share their responses. They don’t have to read their entire letter, but at least ask them to discuss their rhetorical or literary intentions behind the texts they composed.

Step 7

If time permits, share the exemplar essay.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Various


  • Appreciation
  • Children / Youth
  • Class
  • Criminal Justice
  • Death / Grief
  • Economy
  • History
  • Labor / Work
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism
  • Social Movements / Protest
  • Violence

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Imagery
  • Selection of Detail
  • Structure (Syntax)
  • Tone

Content Warning

  • Death or Dying
  • Violence