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Langston Hughes Countee Cullen and James Baldwin have sung their songs about Harlem Now Newbery Honor author Walter Dean Myers joins their chorus in calling to life the deep rich and hope filled history of this community Christopher Myers' boldly assembled art resonates with feeling and tells a tale all its own The words and pictures together connect readers of all ages to the spirit of Harlem in its music art literature and everyday life Author and illustrator tour

10 thoughts on “Harlem A Poem

  1. says:

    I love the artwork in this book Everything cobbled together feeling like motion and life Each page has a poem on it; an ode to Harlem and what it meant to its people It’s a place of freedom where people of color can feel equal and have a chance It’s an idea for certain This blend of poetry and art together make for a very powerful idea The niece thought this was good She enjoyed the verse and was curious about this place She gave it 3 stars The nephew didn’t get into this story He doesn’t have a whole lot of patience and he said this was at least a fast story but still boring He gave it 2 stars

  2. says:

    Text SummaryHarlem “A promise of a better life A place where a man didn’t have to know his place simply because he was black” Those who came to Harlem brought with them a song first heard in the villages of Ghana and Senegal and now left flowing through this city “a new sound raucous and sassy” Religion music and art fill the souls of the people of this city as they hope and pray and sing and paint and write The voices of Langston Countee Du Bois and Baldwin shape this city And on the streets you can see “a carnival of children stickball heroes hide and seek knights and ladies waiting to sing their own sweet songs living out their own slam dunk dreams listening for the coming of the blues” Barbecues fried fish joints Sunday Night Gospel collard greens A collective “sound a celebration memories of feelings a place” A journey that has not ended HarlemLiterary MeritsWalter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers fill this book with the sounds sights and spirit of those who came to Harlem Walter Dean Myers weaves history and culture into the language of his poetry Alliteration simile imagery and rhyme are just a few of the poetic devices used in this text to enhance the reader’s experience Myers uses onomatopoeia to bring the sounds of Harlem to the reader The uptown A rattles past 110th Street” he uses personification show that even the wind must take notice of this captivating city “In Harlem the wind doesn’t blow past Smalls it stops to listen to the sounds” Supporting Myers’ poem is the artwork of Christopher Myers Walter Dean Myers’ son Through collage art Christopher Myers depicts the everyday life of the people of Harlem a young man shooting a jump shot on a basketball court kids playing in the water springing from a fire hydrant an old woman daydreaming out of her window two young people sitting at a bus stop a woman fixing her daughter’s hair and ending powerfully with the street sign of Dr Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard Classroom Recommendations Grades 5 and up The many examples of allusion that Walter Dean Myers uses in this book would require a decent amount of background knowledge for students to understand and feel the impact of this text An interesting way to go about covering some of this background knowledge is for teachers to have students carry out a sort of research project For example the students can each pick one historical or cultural reference to research and create a poster or a PowerPoint or some type of visual to share with the class It can even turn into a group project because there are multiple examples of these references eg “places referenced” Ghana Senegal Mali ; “athletes referenced “Jack Johnson Joe Louis Sugar Ray”; “writers referenced” Langston Hughes Countee Cullen James Baldwin” etc PBS has some great resources for students to check out about the Harlem Renaissance

  3. says:

    Winner of the Coretta Scott King award as well as the Caldecott Harlem is a potent description of the Black American experience in this country Students may not recognize the powerful prose as poetry but the word rhythms sing evoking strong emotional pictures Myer's distinctive voice is supported and highlighted by the vivid and energetic pictures of Christopher Myers Recomended for students K 8 this book is an excellent choice for anyone wanting to share superb literature with their students Filled with historical names and events children will benefit by reading this book with an adult who can explain the significance of the names and places enumerated throughout these evocative pages Harlem provides a jumping off point for discussing the immigration experience in America and the policy decisions we make as a country that directly impact our citizens Liberty and Justice for all? Reviews1 Booklist starred Vol 93 No 12 February 15 1997 recommends this book for Young adults They are expecially taken with the artwork describing its color as loud enough to be heard They remark the father is looking back at the black experience through his text as the son looks forward with his glorious pictures This point had escaped me and made me re read the book with a new appreciation 2 Kirkus Review starred 1996Comments on the jazz feel of the text Kirkus is highly complimentary and recommends it be put in the Jazz section of the library They don't restrict their recommendation to YAsBoth of these reviews are useful especially Booklist which pointed out the differing viewpoints

  4. says:

    SummaryThoughtful ReflectionThis book would best be used with upper elementarymiddle school students It's illustrations for which it won a Caldecott Honor Award are beautifully constructed with torn paper It is amazing how the illustrator Christopher Myers created such intricate images of people depicting their detailed facial features and expressive emotions I personally read this text online at the International Children's Digital Library and felt that much of his detail and creativity was lost through the computer screen's images The poem itself was descriptive however required picture support for complete understanding Sadly I feel much of this was lost by reading it online I do believe these illustrations are unbelievably done however I was not able to see them as clearly had I had the actual book in my hands I recommend hands on text for Harlem

  5. says:

    I read this with my 9 yo foster son the second night he was with us He loved it The poetry is great there are always new things to explain like who some of the historical figures are that are talked about in the poem He loves looking at the pictures and listening to the cadence of the poem The poem can be used if you want to as an opening to bring up various Black history topics Or it can just be read and enjoyed for its rhythm and beautiful illustrations My kid is a light skinned mixed race Black boy from a dark skinned family and feels really insecure about his light skin As we read this book we started to point out the various skin tones of the Black people portrayed in the beautiful illustrations He started to notice that there were people even lighter than him or families where members have different skin tones from each other and they were still Black This was really helpful to him and might be for other kids dealing with similar issues or who want to see that there is vast diversity of looks and body types within the African American community

  6. says:

    I thought I gave this book to my grandchildren then I remembered that stingy moment I had and wanted to keep it for myself I read it again this morning for the poetry and art inspiration and to have a piece of a place that I have always longed to go to but have not been Harlem The brothers did a phenomenal job with the writing and illustration I am certain I will read it again So if the grandkids ever want to read they will have to come visit grandma and leave the book with me It's far too special to give away and too special not to share Enjoy it over and over again

  7. says:

    My four star rating is not a personal reaction because this poem speaks of things so far outside my personal experience that there are many lines I don't really comprehend Nevertheless I am glad it was written for those whose experience it mirrors or explains and for those like me that can get a little window into other experiences The illustrations are impressive

  8. says:

    The beautiful strong imposing illustrations depict both the beauty and the ugliness of Harlem the joy and sadness the strengths and weaknesses

  9. says:

    A mix of evocative sections sections you need background knowledge for and sections that didn't make a lot of sense to me Great illustrations

  10. says:

    Genre poetryGrade range 2 4The way this poet tells the story is so creative It is hard to tell whether it is poetry because there isn’t really rhyme or rhythm but the imagery is obviously a part of poetry I felt like I was a part of this story as I read I felt a part of their way of life and a part of the struggle I felt the emotions through the poets descriptions It helped create a clear view into another way of life