PBS Books is thrilled to celebrate BENJAMIN FRANKLIN this spring as PBS stations across the country air Ken Burns’s four-hour documentary, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, which explores the revolutionary life of one of the 18th century’s most consequential and compelling personalities, whose work and words unlocked the mystery of electricity and helped create the United States. “Write things worth reading,” he said in Poor Richard’s Almanack, “or do things worth the writing.” Benjamin Franklin did both.

“BENJAMIN FRANKLIN,” directed and executive produced by Ken Burns, written by Dayton Duncan, and produced by David Schmidt and Ken Burns, premieres April 4-5, 2022.

This four-hour documentary explores the revolutionary life of one of the 18th century’s most consequential figures, whose work and words unlocked the mystery of electricity and helped create the United States.

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PBS Books is presenting the following three conversations for youth, their families, educators, and libraries on pbsbooks.org

March 30 at 5pm ET | Ben Franklin & the Circulating Library with Jane Yolen, author of The Leather Apron Club

April 6 at 5pm ET | Ben Franklin & STEM with Alicia Klepeis, author of The Science And Technology of Ben Franklin.

April 20 at 7pm ET | Ben Franklin & Citizen Science with PBS Books, PBS Newhour Student Reporting Lab and SciStarter.

What is Citizen Science?

A compilation of PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs coverage about citizen science, and a panel discussion about how Benjamin Franklin, Citizen Science and STEM storytelling are all connected. The conversation was led by Dr. Carla Easter, the Assistant Director for Education, Outreach, and Visitor Experience at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the panel consisted of Dr. Darryl N. Williams, Senior Vice President of Science and Education at The Franklin Institute; Michael Madeja, Head of Education Programs at the American Philosophical Society Library & Museum; and Sonia Aronson, Climate Resilience Researcher at ICF.

STEM Storytelling with StoryMaker

A compilation of PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs coverage about citizen science, and a panel discussion about how Benjamin Franklin, Citizen Science and STEM storytelling are all connected. The conversation was led by Dr. Carla Easter, the Assistant Director for Education, Outreach, and Visitor Experience at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the panel consisted of Dr. Darryl N. Williams, Senior Vice President of Science and Education at The Franklin Institute; Michael Madeja, Head of Education Programs at the American Philosophical Society Library & Museum; and Sonia Aronson, Climate Resilience Researcher at ICF.

Citizen Science in Action

Leah Clapman, Executive Director of the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs, shares more information about the intersection of STEM and storytelling, and the resources available to support teachers and students getting started, specifically resources available on the new StoryMaker platform.

Field Guide to Citizen Science

An interview with Darlene Cavalier, Founder, SciStarter and co-author of “The Field Guide to Citizen Science.”

PBS Books is pleased to share this discussion guide, which includes a reading list.

discussion guide

Here is the PBS Books Adult Reading List.

Adult Reading List

PBS Books also is proud to share National conversation series at 7pm ET created in March 2022:

Franklin & Innovation

Filmmakers and special guests explore Franklin’s innovations. “Franklin and Innovation” is presented by The WNET Group and Fast Company and Inc. Featuring Ken Burns; Walter Isaacson, author of “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life;” and Stacy Schiff, author of “A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America.” Moderated by Stephanie Mehta, Chief Content Officer, Mansueto.

Franklin & Writing

Filmmakers and special guests explore Franklin’s writing. “Franklin and Writing” is presented by GBH, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, and The Boston Globe. Featuring Ken Burns; Christopher Brown, Professor of History, Columbia University; and Jane Kamensky, Professor of History, Harvard University. Moderated by Bina Venkataraman, Editor-at-Large, The Boston Globe.

Franklin & Diplomacy

Filmmakers and special guests explore Franklin and diplomacy. “Franklin and Diplomacy” is presented by WETA, Georgetown University and The Better Angels Society. Featuring Ken Burns; Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; and Nicholas Burns, Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. Moderated by Judy Woodruff, PBS NewsHour.

Franklin & Revolution

With Ken Burns; Walter Isaacson, author of “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life;” and Erica Dunbar, Professor of History, Rutgers University. Moderated by Marty Moss-Coane (she/her), Host and Executive Producer of “Radio Times” on WHYY.

Shareable Partner Toolkit

“BENJAMIN FRANKLIN” is a production of Florentine Films and WETA Washington, D.C.

Corporate funding for BENJAMIN FRANKLIN was provided by Bank of America. Major funding was provided by David M. Rubenstein. Major funding was also provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by The Better Angels Society and its members Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine; University of Pennsylvania; Gilchrist and Amy Berg; Perry and Donna Golkin; Kissick Family Foundation; Deborah and Jon Dawson; Diane and Hal Brierley; McCloskey Family Charitable Trust; Cappy and Janie McGarr; Lavender Butterfly Fund; and Susan and Charles Shanor Charitable Trust.

Citizen science enables everyday people to be involved in scientific research by participating in data collection. Many consider Benjamin Franklin to be America’s first citizen scientist. Franklin believed all people should engage with science, and that knowledge can be used to advance society for the benefit of all.

Then, tap your inner citizen scientists all year long right here by selecting a project below to share your observations and contribute to citizen science the way Benjamin Franklin did!