I, Too, Am America
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

I, Too, Am America

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  378 ratings  ·  139 reviews
The poetic wisdom of Langston Hughes merges with visionary illustrations from Bryan Collier in this inspirational picture book that carries the promise of equality.I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When company comes,

But I laugh,

And eat well,

And grow strong.

Langston Hughes was a courageous voice of his time, and his authentic...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 664)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
This is one of the most powerful author's notes I've ever seen. I read the text of the book out loud once, without pauses. Then we read the book. Then we read the author's note (illustrator's note, I guess). Then we were blown away.
Jul 16, 2013 Myhiah added it
Shelves: children-s-lit
Audience: Primary

Genre: Historical Fiction

Discussion Question: Text-to-Text
- I choose the book Freedom Walkers, by Russell Freedman to be my text-to-text book. The reason I felt that this book would go great with I, Too, Am America, is because they both talk about the struggles of the African American community. In I, Too, Am America it says "They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes." This is talking about how African Americans were treated differently in those times. Freedom Walke...more
Miranda Jones
I, Too, Am America is a beautifully illustrated book. The pictures really grasp the deep, meaning behind Langston Hughes's poem. The lack of words in this book add more meaning because it forces the readers to really concentrate on the illustrations. The illustrations have the reader put together their own story. I would not read this book to younger readers because I do not think they could grasp the meaning the author intended, which wouldn't do the book justice. If I was to read to my student...more
Samantha Pendleton
When I first read I, Too, Am American, I did not really understand what the story was about. From the first time I read through the book I understood it was about racism in African American culture. I knew this because of the illustrations and also the text that supported the illustrations on each page. In the book when it said ‘They send me to the kitchen. When company comes…’ I understood from that line that this book was talking about racism. Then after reading the authors note once I complet...more
This Caldecott Winner is a beautiful representation of the profound words of Langston Hughes! With as little as three words on each double page and some no words at all, it is not short on message. The poem depicts the hope of Langston that one day he will be equal to the white men that dominate his world. His accuracy that he, too, even as a black man would one day represent America was insightful and, at the time provocative. Since the writing of this poem preceded the Civil Rights movement, i...more
Genre: Poetry

Audience: Primary

Quote that promotes mental imagery: "I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes." The poem later states, "Tomorrow, I'll be at the table when company comes." I like this quote because it shows the courage of the Pullman porters and how even though they suffered injustices because of the color of their skin, they worked hard and became stronger and in the end could no longer be ignored. This book shows that de...more
Araceli Aispuro
The story is presented as a poem about the evolution of equality. It is shown in the perspective of African American Pullman porters who worked for wealthy white passengers on luxurious trains. The poem is based on a historic time during the 1960's of a man who stands up to what he believes is right. This poem emphasizes the struggle of Pullman porters in facing injustice due to the color of their skin. This book shows a Pullman Porters day to day routines of gathering newspapers, magazines, mus...more
I enjoyed the book, and the ideas in it were great. I just don't like it when the author/illustrator has to explain what they were trying to do at the end of the book. Readers draw their own conclusions, and when the author tells the reader what they should be seeing, and what it means, then it like a bad mime describing their act. It loses some of its appeal. I love the pictures in this book, but I could do without the explanation at the end.
Jessica Moden
This book was to tell the message that everyone is equal, regardless of skin color. It was a very short read, with only a few lines throughout the whole book. This book is stating a poem, using the illustrations to show the struggles discrimination brought and the freedom that everyone deserves. The illustrations are beautifully done and show a lot of detail with the use of symbolism. The American flag is used as the shadow behind characters or incorporated into the interior of the train the peo...more
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Beautiful...loved the illustrator's note at the end.
I love the simplicity of this poem. It my opinion, it is not the words he writes that have all of the meaning, it is the words he does not write. It is his resilient nature and his ability to feel patriotic toward a nation of people trying to dehumanize him that is remarkable. He has this glimmer of hope that tomorrow will be different--and that is beautiful.

The illustrations are also beautiful. I think I may like the poem better as a stand-alone, but they make it nicer to share with children.
Jim Erekson
I haven't read Uptown or 2012 by Collier yet, but by comparison to his biographical work I like this one better. As a general rule, I don't like poems to be illustrated, because the illustrator usually interprets the poem for me instead of encouraging me to interpret for myself. But Collier did his work well. Here's how:

1. His choice of just one segment of the history of African Americans in the US feels narrower than the poem, which for me meant there was so much more the poem could do--so his...more
I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Bryan Collier takes the classic Hughes poem about equality and bases the illustrations on the Pullman Porters and the role they played in the Civil Rights movement. Collier received the 2013 Coretta Scott King illustrator Award for this book.

Collier's illustrations are rendered in mixed media. The Stars and Stripes are shown and often overlaid on his collages, which focus on the Pullman Porters and their dignity, courage and actions in the Ci...more
Matt Schenk
- Author: Poetry by Langston Hughes
- Illustrator: Bryan Collier
- Title: I Too, Am America
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers NY, NY www.simonspeakers.com
- Copyright: Text 1925, Illustrations 2012
- Genre: Juvenile, Picture book, Societal oppression
- Approx. Grade Lvl: K-1st
- Review/Summary: This beautiful poem written long ago, is given new life in this book. "I Too, Am America" is illustrated with perfection, matching every breath in the body of text Mr Hug...more
Ying Lee
Genre: Poetry
Copyright: 2012

There are many reasons that make this book stand out. First, the text of this picture book is a poem by Langston Hughes. The poem is composed with simple sentences and easy-to-understand vocabulary, but such combination delivers a very power message. Second, the pictures deliver powerful messages too. Bryan Collier uses watercolor and collage to create pictures with a little bit brownish on everything. Also, the image and shape of a flyer appears on almost every page....more
Hughes, L., Collier, B., & Linn, L. (2012). I, too, am America. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Summary: In this illustrated version of Langston Hughes's poem, readers get to see his vision for a world where black Americans can hold the same status as white Americans. He talks of how he is still a representative of America at the beginning, and by the end, he imagines a world where no one even sees the differences between people of various races.

Children's Book...more
Adam Bakken
“I, Too, Am America” is a beautiful poem that was written by Langston Hughes, an amazing social rights activist and poet. In this book, the poem is brought to life by Bryan Collier, whose illustrations reinvent and render the poem amazingly. The narrative is a strength-based perspective of the African-American in American society.
I believe this book is a great introduction for middle elementary children to race-relations and the history of oppression in America. Because it is based off of a poem...more

Audience: I feel this would best fit students who are in grade 2-5. This would best fit them because of the poem; this book is based off a poem and pictures were added. It is a little hard to understand it you don’t read between the lines.

Appeal: This book definitely has a strong point to it. These students will like this book because of the activity they could do afterward. They need to look at the detailed pictures and reread all the words to come up with the meaning. Its not a simple book an...more
The book "I, Too, Am America" is an illustrated version of a well-known poem by Langston Hughes. This poem is very concise, not at all wordy, and because of the way that the illustrator Bryan Collier spreads the poem out across many pages of illustrations, the simple words and short lines seem to carry even more meaning. The pictures really add so much to each line of the poem, and I think that kids reading the illustrations will understand the poem so much better than if they were to read the p...more
Jenifer Neilsen
Audience: Primary:
Genre: poetry
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award 2013

In this visually stunning book, the artist, Bryan Collier, uses Hughes’s well-known poem as text for a visual history of Pullman railway porters. This was one of the first jobs that offered African-American men steady pay, dignity, and a way into the middle class. Collier’s portraits are of the porters at work, enormous sweeping fields of cotton and, a porter scattering what appears to be discarded books and magazines. The s...more
Alyssa Pierce
This book illustrates the timeless poem written by Langston Hughes. His writing is magnificent, as always. The words that he used are so powerful and hold so much meaning within them. The illustrations in this book are breathtaking. They are like nothing I have ever seen before. The colors are so distinct and are made through collage. For instance, on the first page, the blue of the sky is deep and rich in color. There is some gradation within the blue that makes it stunning to look at. The peop...more
I, Too, Am American is an extremely short children’s picture book with few words, but a powerful message. The issue of civil rights and discrimination are the main themes illustrated in this book. The book follows a young African American male who is a severest on a train. He isn't treated with as much respect as the white people are which can be seen through the illustrations.
I found it enlightening that the main character had such a positive attitude about his situation. The boy character say...more
Once upon a time, I didn't like poetry. It just felt too prim and measured. I pictured Emily Dickinson sitting alone in her attic, dipping her pen into an inkwell and writing straight, perfect lines. However, I was an English Literature major, so I had to read (and analyze) poetry. I ended up taking an American Literature class one semester, and one of the assignments was that we had to memorize 15 poems. I was determined to not pick any "old white guy poems," and while researching American poem...more
Audience: Primary
Genre: Historical Fiction

Quote: "I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong."

This book was inspired by the poems of Langston Hughes and illustrated by Brian Collier. In Hughes's poems he implemented his voice for all African Americans seeking equality in a divided nation. The poetry is powerful and in this poem the illustrations (made up by Collier) show examples a Pullman porter working in the...more
Cynthia Housianitis
Picture Book Project

Category: Choice #2

Source: Coretta Scott King Award Winner of 2013

I, Too, Am American brings a new meaning behind the poetic wisdom of Langston Hughes. Combined with the visionary illustrations of Bryan Collier, this historical picture book depicts images from the perspectives of the oppressed African Americans and their message of how all races and cultures are American people.

The illustrations truly grasp the text of the poem – the minimal amount of words in the picture bo...more
Rachel Pederson
As good of a story this book is supposed to be according to the awards and reviews it has gotten, I didn't feel emotionally moved by the writing in this book at all. Being a poem by Langston Hughes, it had a lot of detail missing and required a lot of inference. Although the topic of the book is very important for young readers to gain knowledge on, this book probably wouldn't have as much of an impact on young readers as it would adults.
As for the illustrations throughout the pages, I have not...more
Leah Gerber
The illustrations in the book are very realistic looking. On the train the African American porters are serving the white passengers. When the white train passenger’s board off and the African American servers grab the newspapers and jazz albums and throw them off the train and then they are carried by the wind and the words and music fall into the hands of African Americans all over the country. At the end of the book the young black people celebrate America and dream of a bright future. The i...more
Matching the poetic lines of a poet whose words written almost a century ago still resonate with readers with the mixed media collages of an illustrator whose work so often examines civil rights and social justice themes fashions a marvelous union. Collier wraps his stunning and unique artwork around the Pullman porters and the role they played in the civil rights movement and in disseminating information. He includes an America flag throughout the illustrations, in some cases, merely a wisp of...more
Because of the nature of this poem and how few words there are, the book is dominated by beautiful illustrations expressing an interpretation of the story. The illustrator's note at the end of the book offers more context and makes you feel proud of how far African Americans have come and how much further they can go. It also makes you feel sad, knowing that they have suffered through unwarranted oppression. This would be a wonderful book to read with kids, no matter what age.
Kellie Deruwe
I really was not a fan of this poetic picture book. The story is about an African American author Langston Hughes. This story has very few words and focuses on telling the story through the very elaborate illustrations. I thought that the illustrations had way too much going on for me. On top of that the poem did not make sense until I read the text in the back of the book which provides information on what the text is talking about. I think the book would have made a greater impact on me if I w...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 22 23 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • I Have a Dream
  • Ellen's Broom
  • Step Gently Out
  • Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song
  • Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington
  • Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic
  • We March
  • This Is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration
  • Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night (Booklist Editor's Choice. Books for Youth (Awards))
  • Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems
  • Nelson Mandela
  • I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery
  • The Great Migration: Journey to the North
  • It Jes' Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw
  • Monsieur Marceau: Actor Without Words
  • Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller
  • Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature
  • UnBEElievables: Honeybee Poems and Paintings
Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that "Harlem was in vogue."
More about Langston Hughes...
The Collected Poems Selected Poems The Ways of White Folks Not Without Laughter The Best of Simple

Share This Book

“I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen
when company comes, but I laugh and I eat well, and I grow
Tomorrow I'll sit in the table when company comes, nobody
will dare say to me "eat in the kitchen" then.
Besides they'll see how beautiful I am and be ashamed.”
More quotes…