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
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.