Monday, January 21, 2013

I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. {The Children's Bookshelf}

There are some few books you'll encounter during your travels that you just can't get out of your mind. This often happens to me with books that have a deep emotional impact, either because I read them at a critical moment in my life (i.e. when I was growing up) or because their subject matter touches me right where I live.

Today's pick is one of those books -- I Have a Dream, illustrated by the incomparable Kadir Nelson.



Many of us have read the text of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered on August 28, 1963 at the March on Washington. Personally I'd never heard the entire speech delivered aloud, so the fact that this picture book version comes with an audio CD was pretty incredible for me. But though I'd heard portions of the speech, though I'd read it all in history texts and biographies, I'd never combined those two forms of media with illustrations so powerful they will take your breath away.

This is an emotional experience, my friends.

Nelson selects passages of the speech that he pairs with his incredible paintings (the entire text is reproduced in the afterword). He brings Dr. King's powerful words to life with imagery that cannot fail to move you. From a perspective of the National Mall teeming with crowds present for the March on Washington, Nelson shifts to a closeup of a black hand clasping a white one, then on to a portrait of Dr. King himself. With each passage Nelson finds a way to visually reproduce the depth of feeling in Dr. King's speech, making the reader feel as though he or she is right there listening to this great orator in person.

The most impactful image for me, as the white mother of an African boy, is that of Dr. King's four children. As you might expect, this is accompanied by these words from Dr. King's speech: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." I have that same dream, today, for my own son.

Today we celebrate Dr. King's birthday, and we remember the sacrifices he and so many others made for equality for all persons. Today we will again hear his words, and dream of the day when all people, everywhere, can say they are truly, finally, free.

I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., illustrated by Kadir Nelson, published by Schwartz & Wade Books
All ages
Source: Library

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6 comments:

PragmaticMom said...

I really want to read Kadir's book. Thanks for the great review!

CS Perryess said...

It's not fair to say that Dr. King is an unsung hero, since folks sing his praises all the time. I think it is fair to say, though, that we sure could all learn something from him in terms of tackling the injustices of the day.

Erica MomandKiddo said...

Such a great book! Kadir Nelson's illustrations are always stunning.

Perogyo said...

I've never heard the whole speech either. SO exciting that it comes with a CD as well!

Michelle Cusolito said...

I had the amazing good fortune to see Kadir Nelson's original art for WE ARE THE SHIP when it was at the Eric Carle Museum last year. I was there for a KidLit meet-up/book signing. I totally missed the party because I could not pull myself away from his art. His books are breathtaking, but nothing compares to seeing his paintings in person.

If you ever have an opportunity to see his paintings, please don't miss them.

mary kinser said...

Michelle, that's fantastic! Would love to see some of his artwork in person - maybe someday.