Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Five Langston Hughes Picture Books

from "April Rain Song" by Langston Hughes

Our celebration of poetry continues! Here are five picture books that feature poems by Langston Hughes, one of America's great poets. Four of the books are created from a single Hughes poem, while the final book is a collection. All are beautifully illustrated and worth checking out. Enjoy!

The Negro Speaks of Rivers
poem by Langston Hughes, illustrated E.B. Lewis

*The thought of reading this book to children might make some uncomfortable given that the word "negro" is no longer socially acceptable outside of a historical context. I would encourage you to read the book anyway and to discuss the word with the children you're reading with. Sharing with children that at the time Hughes wrote this poem "negro" was an acceptable word, that has now been replaced with "Black" and "African American," will teach them not to shy away from uncomfortable words in the future, but rather to learn from them. In this way, we can all still appreciate the beauty of Hughes' poem and Lewis' art without being intimidated by a word that, in this context, is used to celebrate the beauty of the Black experience.

Lullaby (For a Black Mother)
poem by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Sean Qualls

A beautiful lullaby that celebrates the love between a mother and child.

My People
poem by Langston Hughes, photos by Charles R. Smith, Jr.

A photographic celebration of the diversity of beauty found among Black people.

I, Too, Am America
poem by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier

Collier roots his illustrations in the experience of the Pullman porters, African American men who began working as porters on sleeping car trains shortly after the American Civil War.

The Dream Keeper and Other Poems
poems by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Brian Pinkney

A collection of Hughes poems (nearly every poem is paired with one of Pinkney's scratchboard illustrations that evoke a windswept, dreamlike feeling), separated into six categories:  The Dream Keeper, Sea Charm, Dressed Up, Feet o' Jesus, Walkers with the Dawn, and Additional Poems.

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