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I, Too, Am America

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,391 ratings  ·  357 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
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published May 22nd 2012 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,391 ratings  ·  357 reviews

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Mariah Roze
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was very confusing to my students. It didn't explain well what was going on and had many pages with out words. the story followed a poem and the pictures were supposed to represent the poem, but my students did not understand what was going on. Below is the poem.

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.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the
Hesham Khaled

|شاعرٌ متنبئ|
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.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,"

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

* * *
أنا نيغرو
أسود كالليل
أسود كأعماق أفريقيا
كنتُ عبدا:
أمرني قيصر بالحفاظ على عتبات بيته نظيفة
ومسحت حذاء واشنطن
كنت عاملا:
ومن تحت يديّ ارتفعت الأهرامات

* * *
لستم سوى زبد البحر

Deborah Obida
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
The poem is about the struggle of an African American in the 20s about segregation and his hope for a better tomorrow that he will be accepted as an American even though he is black.
Caroline Pilman-DeKruif
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, poetry
Through his use of mixed media, Bryan Collier illuminates Langston Hughes’s poem, “I, Too” for readers in the pages of a picture book. While these pages do not have many words, the illustrations speak loudly of the Pullman porters, underpaid and overworked African American men who served wealthy sleeper train car passengers. Throughout the book, readers see porters as they collect discarded papers, magazines, and other unwanted items to throw off the end of the train to distribute to those who ...more
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this in Arabic to see if the words felt the same as in English, I think the Arabic put more weight in his words you can honestly feel the loneliness of a man in one poem to the perseverance of love in another.
For a person that has always lived a privileged life these poems won't make much sense but these words will resonate among the younger generations who have had a taste of social segregation. From the American south to the occupation of Hebron these words give strength to
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Linda Lipko
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book uses the powerful poem of Langston Hughes, known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance.

With the images of a fast moving train, the illustrator blends the poem expressing the reality of the black man in Jim Crow south, yet moving forward, perhaps there is hope that perhaps the black man can indeed become happy to be a part of America.

Now, inspired to learn more of Langston Hughes, I thirst to read more and more of this eloquent poet/man.

I, too, sing America
I am the darker brother
Stefanie Green
Text to Text
This book told a story in an amazingly similar and amazingly different way than the book I read right after it, "This is the Rope." Both focused on the journey African Americans have taken in America and the struggles they have faced. "I, Too, Am American" shows how the porters shared their knowledge with others so everyone would have the an equal opportunity to learn. They were distributing their knowledge in hopes for a better future for the next generation. This story explained
Miranda Jones
Sep 11, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jul 16, 2013 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
Cara Byrne
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"I, too, sing America."

I love this vivid, inspirational picture book weaving together the past with the present. Collier's illustrations are so gorgeous. I would replace the rich drawings of a train in this book with Caldecott award winner _Locomotive_ any day. It's such a smart, effective picture book.
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Stunning. One word of advice: it's an illustrated poem. So, don't be misled into thinking it will work well in a preschool just because there aren't a lot of words. A wonderful illustrator's note explains the context and symbolism. A triumphant work of art. Best of all, not only is it important, but it's enjoyable.
Alondra Carter
"I, Too, Am America" written by Langston Hughes and illustrated by Bryan Collier is a powerful non-fiction book with an equally powerful message. It is a poem written by Langston Hughes which revisits the dark times in Black History where black people were cast aside as merely servants with no value and weren't seen as American citizens too. They were not treated as equals, but towards the end it expresses the strength and beauty of the African-American race and how we rise above the adversity. ...more
Samantha Pendleton
Sep 23, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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, ...more
Mary Ann
Celebrating the Pullman porters, Bryan Collier creates a fascinating narrative that runs alongside Langston Hughes’ famous poem. Collier’s note describes the process he used to create this “visual story line” that emphasizes the message of the poem, connecting a boy’s train journey today to the history of his people. An inspiring, beautiful picture book to share and inspire children and parents.
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Yamile Méndez
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: february-2018
Such an excellent book. Beautiful.
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
Exactly what America needs today...Langston Hughes poem and Bryan Colliers amazing artwork to bring the country back together. Beautiful story for the best country in the world.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
May 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, picture-book, poetry
Beautiful...loved the illustrator's note at the end.
Brenda Kahn
Langston Hughes' simple poem, accompanied by paintings that grab the reader and cause the reader to linger.
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This a fantastic rendition of Langston Hughes's poem. Coupled with Bryan Collier’s watercolor artwork, the text springs to life.
Abby Johnson
Langston Hughes's classic poem is uplifted by Bryan Collier's striking, rich artwork in this picture book celebrating the lives and accomplishments of African Americans. While the poem can apply to many situations, here the illustrations center on the Pullman porters and show contemporary children to illustrate how things have changed. This is a powerful, inspiring picture book. Pair with Sing a Song by Kelly Starling Lyons or The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander for more rich picture books ...more
Jessica Harnish
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
The main character of this story deserves to be as patriotic as any other American. He dreams of a day that he does not have to eat in the kitchen when guests are over. He believes that he can "sing" America and should be treated fairly.

I liked how this text was told as a story but written in a poetic type of way. For some reason, when experiences are written in a poem, they always seem that much more intense to me. I felt the main characters emotion throughout the entire book.

I would connect
Good children's book with excellent illustrations accompanying Hughes' "I Too" poem. Collier's illustrations focus on the Pullman Porters through the present, with iconic Americana imagery to reinforce the idea that we are ALL America.

I read this at a local bookstore the other day; I was pleasantly surprised at what a diverse children's collection they had.
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
The 2013 Coretta Scott King Award winning picture book, “I, Too, Am America” by Langston Hughes is a collection of poetic snapshots of African Americans living through the American 20s. The vibrant figures reflect the embodiment or lack thereof of the American ideals of equality and freedom. The breathtaking visual depictions by Collier aside Langston Hughe’s poem flawlessly work together to expose a peoples’ struggle for acceptance and the truth. The ease of the dignified, yet powerful diction ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lis672
When I first saw this book, I thought it was a picture book. While it is that, it’s also so much more. I was unfamiliar with the poems of Langston Hughes, who was a powerful voice during the Harlem Renaissance. I’m so happy to have been introduced to them. This book was a great introduction to his work for me and can be for children as well.

Bryan Collier’s illustrations really help to bring, what is already a powerful poem, to life. The illustrations are visually engaging and show so much life.
Naa-Shorme Aidoo
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Although this poem is not necessarily a historical fiction, it has many of the qualities of one. It is factually based on the history of African Americans, specifically Pullman porters, creating a scenario that discusses history but also tells a story that may not have necessarily happened in the way that it is illustrated and framed here.

This is a great book for teaching a number of things: comprehension through illustration, poetry, identity, persevering through adversity or social studies.
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Baby Bookworm
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: our-reviews

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

Hello, friends! As you know, February is Black History Month, so in honor of that, we will be reading a book every Friday that celebrates black heritage and culture, as well as black authors and artists. Today’s book is I, Too, Am America, a retelling of a poem by Langston Hughes with a story told through art by Bryan Collier.

Using the text of Hughes’s classic poem, Collier uses his art to tell
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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."
“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…