Tuesday, April 24, 2018

That is My Dream

During National Poetry Month, I try to seek out ways to present poetry to children who are under five, who haven't been in school yet and who may not have much understanding of the meaning of the word " poem". Sometimes I am very lucky to find amazing picture books based on poetry. This book is a breathtaking introduction to the work of Langston Hughes. Daniel Miyares, award winning author and illustrator of Float and Surf's Up takes one of Hughes' poems,"Dream Variation", and re-interprets it with beautiful images that tells a story of a dream of hope , contrasted with the inequality experienced by families in the segregated 1950s. In only a few words per page, the text expresses the longing of a little boy for a day when he can " fling his arms wide...to whirl and dance...in the face of the sun!" Images of a black people seated at the back of a bus, shopping at different stores and drinking at separate fountains remind us of that time, and may create questions in young children who see the images. It is up to you, the reader, to enter that conversation and help children gain some understanding of these realities.
      Later, as the artist takes us on Hughes dream journey, we find black and white children drinking water from a common pond, resting under a tree and enjoying a sunset together. The lush colors fill the pages,with birds appearing as themselves and as vehicles to help the reader soar in his and her wishes for this dream to come true.
   In our library, we have more than one picture book featuring Langston Hughes' writing. Lullaby for a Black Mother features a sweet poem from mother to child, with illustrations by Sean Qualls, and a small photograph of an infant Langston Hughes and his mother. I, too, am America is another beautiful rendition of a Hughes poem that artfully depicts African American Pullman porters with respect and honor, with illustrations by Bryan Collier. If you have never shared poetry with preschool children, starting with Langston Hughes is a great way to begin.

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