Friday, January 11, 2019


As the mom of two African American boys, I am always on the hunt for books that depict my boys in positive, but ordinary ways. Definitely not as sports stars or rappers. And not even necessarily heroes like George Washington Carver or Barack Obama or Martin Luther King, Jr.  I want them to see ordinary people doing ordinary things. Maybe that's why I fell in love with SEEING INTO TOMORROW: HAIKU BY RICHARD WRIGHT with biography and illustrations by Nina Crews.

Ricard Wright is best known for his novel NATIVE SON and his autobiography, BLACK BOY. According to the biographical information in the back of SEEING INTO TOMORROW, he was born in Roxie, Mississippi, in 1908. As a young man, he moved from city to city, and finally moved to Paris in 1947 because he heard circumstances were better for African Americans there. In the final years of his life, he wrote thousands of haiku; eight hundred were published in a collection called HAIKU: THE OTHER WORLD. The haiku in SEEING INTO TOMORROW come from those. Each two-page spread contains one haiku, and  several large color photographs of an African American boy.

Maybe the thing I love most is that not only are all of the boys in the book doing ordinary things, but they are doing them outside- exploring the woods, walking dogs, and playing in a park. Exactly the kinds of things I want kids to do every day. Here are a couple that I loved (it's a teeny bit hard to do them justice without the photographs).

As day tumbles down,
The setting sun's signature
Is written in red.

A spring sky so clear
that you feel you are seeing
into tomorrow.

Reading these makes me want to find Wright's adult book. 

Kat Appel, who is writing a poem a day, is hosting Poetry Friday today. 


Heidi Mordhorst said...

I too am soooo happy to find these "ordinary" depictions of kids of color, and I didn't know Richard Wright had done poetry! Thank you for highlighting this book, Carol. I think you have a misprint though--you've identified the biographer/illustrator as MLK instead of Nina Crews.

KatApel - said...

The book sounds superb, and I like your thinking, in terms of ordinary kids doing ordinary things. That is so important - and getting out and about to do them! Funnily enough, I think haiku about everyday moments are the best haiku, too.

Irene Latham said...

Yes, Nina Crews photographs are brilliant with Richard Wright's words! A beautiful book. Thank you for sharing, Carol. xo

Linda B said...

Just coming out! And this sounds wonderful, Carol! Not only good for children of color to see those ordinary days, but for white kids, too. All kids loving nature, I assume from the cover & your description. Thanks so much for sharing!

Ruth said...

This sounds like something that needs to be in my school's library - thanks for telling us about it!

laurasalas said...

The haiku in this book are just amazing. I didn't know Wright's poetry and am so glad to have learned more about him in Nina's book!

Mary Lee said...

On hold at the library and likely one I'll have to buy, though I'm trying so hard to buy fewer books...I have so many that don't get read!

Tara said...

This sounds like a wonderful book, Carol - thanks for sharing it!

Michelle Kogan said...

Thanks for sharing these two gorgeous haikus Carol– I love these two lines,
The setting sun's signature
Is written in red."
I'm going to look for this one!

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