Harlem: A Poem

Common Sense Media says

This glittering work reaches across boundaries.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 
Caldecott Medal and Honors

What parents need to know

Violence

A poignant illustration of a solemn child leaning on a lamppost accompanies a verse discussing endless depths of pain.

Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that though it's a picture book, this is clearly aimed at older readers. A class of first-graders was confused by the complexity of the book's poetry and its many references to unfamiliar figures. In fact, some references may be confusing for anyone not familiar with African-American leaders and artists, yet it can still provide a good stepping-off point for older classes studying black history.

User reviews

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Harlem was a promise ... Myers's vivid poem creates a kaleidoscopic journey through Harlem's past and present. Staccato verses and brilliant collages stir the senses, calling forth a tumultuous burst of sights, sounds, and images. Famous names and events fill the verses, raising questions for readers unfamiliar with black history. But this glittering work reaches across racial and social boundaries.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This remarkable work shimmers with emotions: alternately spiritual, humorous, jazzy, and, at times, full of the blues. They shine with a reverence for what Harlem promised and produced, tempered with keen observations of its disappointments. The uptown, upbeat, ragtime tempo of this poem makes for a lively read-aloud, even for older readers. Add to this the scope of the poem's content and it's a treasure -- both for those who have lived the Harlem experience and those who are curious about it.

Christopher Myers's artwork enhances his father's poem. Each illustration is a fascinating collage of tiny pieces of papers, drawings, and photographs, divided and reassembled to create a new whole. Martin Luther King Jr., the Apollo Theater, girls skipping rope -- all come to life in pages filled to the edges with color and texture. Rhythm and image, color and texture, all combine to create Harlem's celebration song.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Harlem past and present. Why is this neighborhood such an important part of America's history? What does its future hold?

Book details

Author:Walter Dean Myers
Illustrator:Christopher Myers
Genre:Poetry
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publisher:Scholastic Inc.
Publication date:January 1, 1997
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7
Award:Caldecott Medal and Honors

This review of Harlem: A Poem was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

Write a user reviewThere aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide