Monday, August 3, 2009

Because I have a Nephew: A Portrait of Love

This week Ali is hosting CORA Diversity Roll Call. Participants have a choice of two broad topics: boys and book and book covers. For greater detail go to Worducopia. Me, I'm choosing to highlight books I have or will share with my 5-year-old nephew. P is all boy and all boy is strange to me. My orientation is girl centric and while girl centric for me means redefining gender roles, I still have a very feminine perspective. And that perspective feeds my desire to nurture my nephew; it means I want to expose him to positive images of himself. Because I have a nephew, these books are featured not solely because I want to recommend good books to share with young boys but to remind the adult caregivers, teachers, counselors and the media folk that our boys are kind and beautiful, curious and creative. They dream. They are loved.

my people, Langston Hughes, Charles R. Smith Jr. photographer
It is so perfectly balanced, lyrical and joyful the children were delighted to read it over and over until they had it memorized. We put it up on the big screen, printed it out on paper and illustrated it, copied it into their notebooks, and read it in chorus or individually through out the day. As Charles R. Smith Jr. says in his afterword in this volume, "At just thirty-three words total, the poem is a study in simplicity..." It is Hughes at his best. Read Andromeda's full review at a wrung sponge.

Bird by Zetta Elliott. Love this. It is simply beautiful. The art and writing is breath-taking, memorable. The kind of book you revisit and enjoy anew each time.
In a promising debut for both Elliott and Strickland, this picture book tells a poignant story about a boy whose loving family, friends and a gift for drawing help him navigate difficult emotions surrounding the deaths of his grandfather and drug-addicted brother. A complicated weaving of impressive watercolor, gouache, charcoal and ink drawings amplifies the metaphors and action of the poetic text as it combines black-and-white with color. Never straying from believable language in casting Mehkai, the child, as narrator, Elliott skillfully unfolds the sequence of events.

Ron's Big Mission by Corrine Naden, Rose Blue
The story of astronaut Ron McNair as a child, but accomplishing something bigger than eventually becoming an astronaut. As a child, he stood up for his right to check out books from the library, though the library would not allow people of color to have library cards. An important story, well told. I like that it shows kids that being famous isn't the most important thing they can do; also, people can be heroes in more ways than one. Marie Lapage.

Be Boy Buzz by bell hooks.
Celebrates being Bold, All Bliss Boy, All Bad Boy Beast, Boy running, Boy Jumping, Boy Sitting Down, and being in Love With Being a Boy.


zettaelliott said...

Thanks for sharing Bird with your nephew, and for giving him the chance to be ALL of who he is...

Ali said...

our boys are kind and beautiful, curious and creative. They dream. They are loved.

Well said.

My boys are younger than the target for these books, but they would have loved them "back in the day."

Doret said...

Beautiful books. Susan you may also want to check out Not Norman by Bennett for your nephew.

tanita davis said...

I ABSOLUTELY adore the cover of My People. Beautiful, beautiful baby!

And now I have TWO nephews!

Rasco from RIF said...

Thank you! These are valuable inputs for RIF to have and I have nephews who need to read these books as well!