If I Were in Charge of the World

Author: Judith Viorst
Plot Summary: In Judith Viorst’s poem “If I Were in Charge of the World,” a child imagines what would be different if the child was in charge of the world. Not surprisingly, there’s quite a range in what is wished for: from the serious (“we wouldn’t have lonely) to the not-so-serious (“You wouldn’t even have sisters”).
Posted In: Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy

Discussion Questions

Either read the poem to the class or project it in the room and have the students take turns reading stanzas. Have the students work independently to write down their own “If I Were in Charge of the World” lists. Encourage them to make that list in whatever mode most resonates with them (e.g., poem, list, picture, song lyrics, etc.).

Once the students have had a chance to think by themselves, you can either (a) have a group sharing/discussion session or (b) put them in small groups, have them share their ideas with each other, and then have the group pick the top three ideas and explain why those ideas were the best. You can also do options (a) and (b) by splitting the exercise across two sessions.

Note: It is helpful to give students some guidance about putting both silly things (ice cream for breakfast) and serious things (no violence) on their lists. You can refer to the poem as an example.