Thursday, July 13, 2017

CHARACTER COUNTS: One Last Word: Wisdom of the Harlem Renaissance

One Last Word: Wisdom From the Harlem Renaissance
By Nikki Grimes
Bloomsbury, 2017. Poetry.

This book is timely, lyrical, beautiful, and brilliant - I cannot say enough good things about it. Nikki Grimes is the poet and author of numerous children's books, but I think this is the first of her books I've read where I feel like she could not possibly be any better. This book begins with a short introduction to the Harlem Renaissance, the power of poetry, and Nikki Grimes' own attachment to the movement. She then uses the Golden Shovel form of poetry - which she explains - to re-explore some famous poems by poets of the Harlem Renaissance.

I read this entire book cover to cover in a single sitting, but families could read it at a slower pace and still enjoy it. As soon as I finished, I went back to re-read some of my favorite passages because it was really that good! There are definitely sophisticated themes in this book, and some of the poems may be hard for children to understand at first, which makes this a great read aloud or read-together. I know that I didn't talk about the Harlem Renaissance in school until I was in AP English, but I wish I had learned about it much younger - families could certainly introduce it to their young children much sooner and this is a perfect book to use for that discussion. These poems, and the original illustrations by prominent black artists, are masterful. 

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