We just received a new shipment of books for our library. I am so excited to share the new books I ordered illustrated by Bryan Collier. I first met Bryan Collier at the New York Library Association Fall Conference. He spoke to us how he tried so hard to find a job as an illustrator. For seven years he went door to door with his portfolio showing it to various publishers until one day finally somebody gave him a break.
These books can be used with high school students to teach symbolism, poetic license and comprehension of text. The large and colorful collages and paintings are filled with details and nuances. Our student population has many visual and English Language Learners. I highly recommend the following titles to be used in the subject context areas.
I Too Am America by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Simon and Schuster 2012)Bryan Collier takes the simple poem by Langston Hughes and relates it to the plight of the Pullman porters and the effects segregation had on their lives. He includes a detailed explanation of the images he emphasized in his artwork. This book would be a great addition to a social studies unit on segregation, an English class on imagery and symbolism and/or an art class.
Jabari Assim takes the small details of Booker T. Washington’s life and creates it into a read aloud picture book that sounds like poetry and is extremely inspiring. He describes the struggles Booker T. Washington faced learning to read and write, physically walking the 500 mile journey, to finally reach Hampton Institute and become the great writer and spokesperson that he is more well known for. Bryan Collier’s illustrations were done in watercolor and collage. The text was set in Zemke hand and the display type was Sodom Regular and Civil War type. Students can analyze the typeset, the position of the text on the page and how Bryan Collier used design to interpret the words. This book could easily fit into social studies, English or art class. It could also be used as inspiration for students trying to create goals and life mission statements.
It is almost a miracle how the pottery of Dave survived. Dave the potter wrote poetry and engraved it on the sides of the pots he created. He was a slave, who belonged to Mr. Miles and created the pots in the 1830s. He created his own living legend by having the courage to engrave his messages into his pots in a time when slaves were not allowed to read, or write and could be killed for being independent thinkers. Bryan Collier again creates detailed paintings using collage technique filled with deep symbolism and imagery. This book too can be used to convey mission and purpose. Long after the book is done, the images that Bryan Collier created will remain in the reader’s mind.
These books are not just for the young. Older readers, including adults, can read these books and take away their own individual life lessons. Each book has a detailed summary in the back with a bibliography and in some cases a timeline.
Some additional titles we purchased which I highly recommend are:
Clemente by Willie Perdomo, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Henry Holt 2010)
Twelve Rounds to Glory by Charles R. Smith, illustrated by Bryan Collier (Candlewick Press 2007)
America the Beautiful : Together We Stand by by Katharine Lee Bates, illustrated by various artists (Scholastic 2013)
Separate is Never Equal written and illustrated by Duncan Tonathiuh. (Abrams 2014)