Langston Hughes (Poetry for Young People Series), edited by Arnold Rampersad & David Roessel, illustrated by Benny Andrews
Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., 2006
"Bring me all of your dreams,
-Langston Hughes, The Dream Keeper
You can't even consider the topic of African-American poetry without immediately thinking of Langston Hughes, perhaps the best known of the Harlem Renaissance poets. I have always considered "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up/Like a raisin in the sun?" to be one of the most memorable and moving lines of poetry I have ever read.
If you have not had a chance to revisit Langston Hughes recently, I can strongly recommend this excellent collection of his poems selected for children. The poems cover a range of themes, including family, neighborhood, history, music and self reflection. There are many poems to uplift and inspire, such as I Dream A World ("I dream a world where man/No other man will scorn"). Some of the poems are very personally introspective, such as Final Curve ("When you turn the corner/And you run into yourself") and even sad Genius Child ("nobody loves a genius child") - which, note to parents, actually has a rather shocking ending. Read together, the poems give one a sense of Hughes' personality, and perhaps also give some insight on living during this historical time.
I love the illustrations in this book- they are stylish and engaging. I also love that the editors include a line or two of description to help put the poems in context. The poetry, of course, really speaks for itself.