Harlem (Walter Dean Myers & Christopher Myers)


Hello, friends! Today’s review is another favorite from our library that we’ve been wanting to review for a while, and with everything in the news recently, it felt like a good time to shine a spotlight on this phenomenal book: Harlem, a poem written by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers.

Told in free verse, the evocative words of Myers’s poem tells the story of Harlem, the home of a great history and greater hope. It dashes between past, present and future, peeking into windows and through doors at the citizens of Harlem as they go to church, wash vegetables in their kitchens, ride the subways and play games in the streets. It celebrates Harlem’s one-of-a-kind history of jazz, literature, activism and culture, and writes a love letter to a community built out of a desire for freedom; freedom of expression, freedom from discrimination, and the freedom to achieve. 

Harlem can be a challenging read for some little bookworms, with much of the text being names and places written in a syncopated free verse style. However, the gorgeous mixed-media art, which captures as much an emotion as a people and place, is colorful and exciting enough for any little one. Then, once the reader is familiar with the words and rhythm of the text, there is a passion and life to the poem that is impossible to deny, and becomes more affecting with each repeat reading. This is a book that captures the soul of a vibrant, and vital, place in American history, and it’s simply wonderful. It’s a good length, a favorite of ours, and emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!

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