This book is a great read aloud for African-American history month. I plan to use it with my third and fourth graders. The illustrations by Gregory Christie are excellent.
Richard Wright loved to read but had no access to books as a child or as a young man. He would read scraps of newspaper or whatever words he could find. When Richard finds work at an optician’s office, he notices that one of the white men there seems different – as he would understand Richard’s need for books. Richard gathers his courage and asks the man if he can use the man’s library card. When Richard goes to the public library. When the librarian questions him about the books he is checking out, Richard lies to her and tells her that he can’t read. He tells her that he is just picking up books for the card’s owner. White people in the library snicker at him.
This is the fictionalized account of an important episode in Richard Wright’s life, written about in Wright’s famous autobiography, Black Boy, published in 1945. Highly recommended.