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3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  750 Ratings  ·  138 Reviews
Walter Dean Myers calls to life the deep, rich, and hope-filled history of Harlem, this crucible of American culture.
Christopher Myers' boldly assembled collage art resonates with feeling, and tells a tale all its own. Words and pictures together connect readers -of all ages - to the spirit of Harlem in its music, art, literature, and everyday life, and to how it has helpe
Hardback, 32 pages
Published 1997 by Scholastic Press, New York
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Oct 21, 2008 Rfrancik rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 10-picture-books, 1-b
Winner of the Coretta Scott King award as well as the Caldecott, Harlem is a potent description of the Black American experience in this country. Students may not recognize the powerful prose as poetry but the word rhythms sing evoking strong emotional pictures.

Myer's distinctive voice is supported and highlighted by the vivid and energetic pictures of Christopher Myers. Recomended for students K-8 this book is an excellent choice for anyone wanting to share superb literature with their student
Mar 03, 2017 Jenny rated it really liked it
My four star rating is not a personal reaction because this poem speaks of things so far outside my personal experience that there are many lines I don't really comprehend. Nevertheless I am glad it was written for those whose experience it mirrors or explains and for those, like me, that can get a little window into other experiences. The illustrations are impressive.
Phil Jensen
Feb 13, 2017 Phil Jensen rated it liked it
A mix of evocative sections, sections you need background knowledge for, and sections that didn't make a lot of sense to me. Great illustrations.
Mar 12, 2012 Cristina rated it it was amazing
Text Summary
Harlem: “A promise of a better life... A place where a man didn’t have to know his place simply because he was black.” Those who came to Harlem brought with them a song, first heard in the villages of Ghana and Senegal, and now left flowing through this city: “a new sound, raucous and sassy.” Religion, music, and art fill the souls of the people of this city as they hope, and pray, and sing, and paint, and write. The voices of Langston, Countee, Du Bois, and Baldwin shape this city.
Jul 01, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it
Harlem, by Walter Dean Myers, has a cadence to it that makes the reader want to close his eyes and just listen to the smooth rhythm of the words. The rhythm of of the poem adds so much to the poem, but the words are also extremely educational. Myers alludes to so many people and historical events, that this poem could be read and students could read and then pick a portion to do a research assignment. After reading them poem, Harlem becomes more real, and made me want to visit, and reminded me o ...more
CH13_Lisa Matthews
Mar 10, 2013 CH13_Lisa Matthews rated it really liked it
Shelves: vii-poetry
Harlem: A Poem is a picture book that is a free verse format, which does not follow a rhyme scheme or pattern give the readers a glimpse into Harlem’s past and present with references of famous African American such as Joe Louis, Sugar Ray, DuBois, and Langston Hughes. “Harlem” also has references to famous places and streets in Harlem like the Cotton Club, Lenox Avenue and 110th street.

The illustration on each page are collages of small pieces of paper, hand drawing and photographs that has bee
Oct 01, 2009 Valerie rated it liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
Summary/Thoughtful Reflection:
This book would best be used with upper elementary/middle school students. It's illustrations, for which it won a Caldecott Honor Award, are beautifully constructed with torn paper. It is amazing how the illustrator, Christopher Myers, created such intricate images of people, depicting their detailed facial features and expressive emotions. I personally read this text online ( at the International Children's Digital Library,
Jun 30, 2010 Brynaleh rated it it was amazing
I read this with my 9 y/o foster son the second night he was with us. He loved it - The poetry is great, there are always new things to explain (like who some of the historical figures are that are talked about in the poem). He loves looking at the pictures and listening to the cadence of the poem. The poem can be used, if you want to, as an opening to bring up various Black history topics. Or it can just be read and enjoyed for its rhythm and beautiful illustrations. My kid is a light-skinned m ...more
Jan 18, 2009 Patricia rated it it was amazing
The beautiful, strong, imposing illustrations depict both the beauty and the ugliness of Harlem, the joy and sadness, the strengths and weaknesses.
Mar 08, 2010 Katterley rated it it was amazing
Stefanie Burns
Feb 26, 2017 Stefanie Burns rated it liked it
Shelves: caldecott-honor
Collage art illustrates this intensely worded poem. I admired the artwork more than the text in this book. I found Walter Dean Myers' text to be complex and stilted in this book. It's unaccessible for elementary school aged children and when looking at books, that's who I am analyzing them for. I read books to see if my students would enjoy them and/or learn something from them. The artwork and s great and would be great to use in an art class.
Oct 25, 2016 Mrs.D rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-reading
This picture book's illustrations are a stunning blend of painting and collage. Myers' poem about Harlem
is complex and because of that, this book would be more appropriate for advanced young readers or even middle school students. I could imagine students writing their own odes to a place they love.
Rebecca McNutt
The illustrations in this book are absolutely incredible, but what I find really memorable is the poem, the author's words about the community of Harlem and how much value and wonder there is there. I had this book when I was a little kid and it's still as amazing now as it was back then.
Kevin Denizard
Mar 12, 2017 Kevin Denizard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
1) Caldecott Honor
2) kindergarten- 3rd grade
3 The book Harlem is a story about the same Harlem located in New York. The story is told through a poem and takes us on an in-depth journey throughout Harlem culture and History.
4) I love the dark gritty illustration the book uses to install the mood of Harlem itself to us the reader.
5) A lesson on where the child is from, or read the poem during black history month
Jennifer Foeller
Mar 09, 2017 Jennifer Foeller rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017-02toread
This is probably a book that should be read, I'm just really uncertain as to who the target audience is. Most of the references will not make sense to children and there is not enough background to make them make sense. This is a picture book/ poetry book for either older, well-informed children or for reasonably informed adults. Some of the names dropped in this book will be familiar, like Malcolm X, but, Baldwin, Du Bois and Langston are not likely to be recognized by elementary age kids simpl ...more
Bessana Kendig
Feb 11, 2017 Bessana Kendig rated it really liked it
"Harlem" is a poem written by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Christopher Myers. It's a poem about Harlem and the liberated black culture that is found there. The narrator of the poem takes the reader through the nooks and crannies of the city, looking at the culture of food, beauty, music, and women. The illustration style looks like acrylic fine art paint, collaged and layered together.

My favorite line from the poem is, "Harlem was a promise, Of a better life, of a place where a man didn't,
Kendall Soffer
Title: Harlem
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Illustrator: Christopher Myers
Genre: Poetry

Opening Sentence: They took to the road in Waycross, Georgia Skipped over the tracks in East St. Louis

Brief Summary: Walter tells his story about being in the Harlem community. He shares his own personal experiences through poetry. The pictures in the book help depict his tale.

Professional Recommendation #1:
Jan Lieberman (Children's Literature)
Walter Dean Myers and his son Christopher have created a moving tribute
Erin Ramai
I gave this book a 4 star rating. Harlem is intended for grades 6 through adult, but I feel that along with a rich social studies curriculum, it could be used in younger grades. In 1998, it was awarded the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. It was also a 1998 Caldecott Honor Book illustrated in collage by Christopher Myers, the son of Walter Dean Myers. The book is written in verse and is viewed as Walter Dean Myers' interpretation of Harlem. And he is surely not the first to revel in the mus ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Campbell
Jun 26, 2015 Lisa Campbell rated it it was amazing
Categories/Genres for this class fulfilled by this book, Picture Book, historical fiction, ICDL, poetry
Estimate of age level of interest - 10 - 13 years old
Estimate of reading level -
Brief description- Beautiful book covering the history, people and places of Harlem. I read this book on the International Children's Digital Library, which made the pages very small on my iPad mini. The illustrations are stunning, but I can't wait to see this book in print form. I think that this book would make a
Nov 04, 2012 Becky rated it really liked it
Genre: Junior – Poetry

Summary: Harlem is a collection of poetry that captures the reality and beauty in the culture, music and varied people of Harlem. The collage illustrations done by Christopher Myers add depth and strength to the gritty poems.

Literary Critique: (a.) Use of figurative language (themed as music terms) to describe life in Harlem
(b.) Myers weaves musical imagery and sound throughout his poetic Harlem to reveal the essence of the people and culture of Harlem. As he introduces how
Lauren Brown
Mar 24, 2016 Lauren Brown rated it really liked it
In the book Harlem by Walter Dean Meyers uses poetry to connect the audience into the cultural aspects of Harlem and all of the neighbors and the people in it. Walter Dean Meyers expresses and embraces the Harlem culture with celebration of its beauty and complexity. However, not only beauty is portrayed but through the use of her poetry Meyers paints images of the spirit of the community culturally to show the beginning ties to Harlem and its culture to show how it was formed on the ideas of sa ...more
Maribel Ruiz
Apr 21, 2016 Maribel Ruiz rated it it was amazing
Walter Dean Myers (1997), Harlem

Target Audience: Grades 3-5

Setting: All of the events are taking place in Harlem. You read and see various examples of the daily activities of the community in Harlem.

Characters/plot/summary: The characters in this story are the people of Harlem. The author provides various examples throughout the reading about the experiences people in Harlem have. The sounds that are heard through the community. You see a description of the street. The author also provides exa
Rachael Mack
Sep 11, 2014 Rachael Mack rated it liked it
The picture book Harlem shares a powerful poem about black history. Harlem shares about how the city is the dream because color does not matter. The poem tells about all of the things you could see and hear in the city, Myers does a phenomenal job of creating imagery. For example, when the story says “In Harlem the wind doesn’t blow past Smalls, it Stops to listen to the sounds” the reader can practically see the wind slowing down and hearing blues and jazz all around.
My favorite aspect of th
Ashleigh Pollard
I was really drawn to this book because of the Title. I had the opportunity to visit Harlem New York and wanted to read a book for reminiscence purposes. I think my expectations were too high before reading because the story was not what I expected. The book included an assortment of poems that tried to describe the overall experience, history and culture of Harlem. I thought the collage artwork was creative, because in real life the city in a sense reminds me of a giant collage. The imperfectio ...more
Kendrick Blackwood
May 21, 2013 Kendrick Blackwood rated it liked it
Title: Harlem
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Illustrator: Christopher Myers
Genre: Poem/Picture book

Summary: Harlem is a place that African Americans gravitated toward because it was a long way away from the “know your place” Deep South. They brought with them a rhythm of speech, music and life. They brought with them roots that snaked back to Africa. They brought with them color, and faith, and celebrations, and work, and sport. The multi-media illustrations of chopped up photos and paint echo the word
Torrie Heller
Oct 10, 2016 Torrie Heller rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-11-20
Type: non-fiction
Genre: poetry
Awards: Caldecott Medal
Summary:This is a book/poem/ collection of poems about a place called Harlem. Harem is a city with thick African-American roots and culture. Even in times when black people still ad little rights they could go to Harlem and a lot of those tings tended to disappear. As Walter Dean Myers says, "... of a place where a man didn't have to know his place simply because he was black." I think that sums up what Harlem meant to these people better than
May 26, 2008 Jodysegal rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 2nd grade and Up
Shelves: poetry
Christopher Myers' wonderfully expressive collages portray Harlem with a stylized realism saturated with pan-African reds, greens, yellows and blacks and they provide the perfect accompaniment to Walter Dean Myers' poetic tour of the streets of the neighborhood. Filled with allusions to people, places and traditions- from Ghana and other African nations to Coltrane, Wright and Baldwin, to the spirituals, Jive and Jehovah of the storefronts, Myers' poem brings this neighborhood to life. Try readi ...more
Jan 19, 2010 Linda rated it really liked it
Shelves: african-american
This a beautifully woven poem that threads the reader into the neighborhood of Harlem. The poem starts the reader describing the journey of the neighborhood's conception then celebrates Harlem for what it means to it's citizens.

This book is a wonderful introspection into the concept of identity. While the reader learns about the beauty and complexity of Harlem, they also begin to wonder what their neighborhood is made of and how that impacts them as individuals. The color and textures of the pic
Kate Reilly
Mar 17, 2014 Kate Reilly rated it it was amazing
Harlem is a poem about Harlem. It discusses it's rich history and gives great insight into it's culture. It discusses the music, art, food and people of Harlem, emphasizing the rich culture and history of the area. I love how this book displays the several different types of people and different types of dreams coming together to make up Harlem.

Im my future classroom I would love to spend a good bit of time of this book. I feel that it would be good for incorporating several different standards
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Stacie Williams
Stacie Johnson

Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsburg, West Virginia but moved to Harlem with his foster parents at age three. He was brought up and went to public school there. He attended Stuyvesant High School until the age of seventeen when he joined the army.

After serving four years in the army, he worked at various jobs and earned a BA from Empi
More about Walter Dean Myers...

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