We were in the bookstore on Saturday when the girls spotted this book (with CD) and asked if they could have a copy. E said the cover reminded her of the book Nelson Mandela that is sitting on top of one of the library shelves in her school – and then I made the connection when I saw that the paintings for this book were done by Kadir Nelson. Did you see his cover painting for The New Yorker of Mandela? He also wrote and illustrated the children’s book about Mandela that E was referring to – I really love his work. The paintings in this book give visual references to the day of the speech. On the first page, King’s face is close to the reader, and F asked why there were four microphones in front of him. E told her to wait a minute, and then we turned the page and took in the vast National Mall, with the Lincoln Memorial in the far distance, and the reason for the microphones became clear. After reading it on our own, we could put the CD in and listen to a recording of King’s speech. The entire transcript is in the back of the book.
E’s favorite part of the book is the collage of various mountaintop landscapes that blend into one another, and I have to agree with her. When I think of Kadir Nelson, I think of his stunning portrait work, but when I listen to this speech, it’s the mountaintop imagery that speaks to me. F traced her finger along the changing line of peaks as they rose their way across the page to the “snowcapped Rockies of Colorado”, commenting on how different they all looked. E told her this country is so big that things can look very different depending upon where you are. F added “and sometimes people can too,” tracing her finger along the circle of children on the playground. I suggested that perhaps the really great speeches are the ones that can meet people on their own mountains, and then challenge them to shift their perspectives; “every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight”.
This edition of Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech contains a CD with a recording of King’s speech and Nelson’s gorgeous paintings.
Find these titles at your favorite local independent bookstore. Happy reading!