Hirsch, Jr. is the author of several books, including the Houghton Mifflin bestsellers Cultural Literacy and The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy. A First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (Mariner); the Core Knowledge Sequence, What Your [First through Sixth] Grader Needs to Know (Doubleday); The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them (Anchor); and, most recently, The Formation of Americans (Yale University Press) are all publications by Hirsch on related topics. These texts have had an impact on current educational theory and practice in the United States and elsewhere. Hirsch earned his bachelor's degree from Cornell University and his master's and doctorate from Yale University. He began his teaching career at Yale, where he specialized in Romantic Poetry and Literary Theory, before moving on to the University of Virginia as Professor of English in 1966, where he served twice as chair of his department.
He was a University Professor of Education and Humanities at the time of his retirement in 2000. He was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1977 and the International Academy of Education in 1997. He has received numerous honorary degrees and has served as a Fulbright and Guggenheim member, as well as being a fellow of Stanford University's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, a Humanities fellow at Princeton University, a fellow at the Australian National University, and an honoree of the Royal Dutch Academy and the National Academy in Rome. In 1997, he got the American Federation of Teachers' biennial QuEST award, and in 2003, he received the Fordham Award for Valor in Education.
Hirsch received the Conant Award for Distinguished Contributions to American Education from the Education Council of the States in 2012. He's been a member of a number of advisory committees, including the National Council on Educational Research. Hirsch is the founder of the nonprofit Core Knowledge Foundation, which continues to advise and assist schools, with over 1,000 Core Knowledge schools in 47 states and worldwide.
- What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know: Preparing Your Child for a Lifetime of Learning
- What Your Preschooler Needs to Know: Get Ready for Kindergarten (Core Knowledge Series)
- What Your Third Grader Needs to Know (Revised and Updated): Fundamentals of a Good Third-Grade Education (Core Knowledge Series)
- What Your Second Grader Needs to Know (Revised and Updated): Fundamentals of a Good Second-Grade Education
- What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know: Fundamentals of a Good Fifth-Grade Education