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Richard Wright and the Library Card
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Richard Wright and the Library Card

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  479 ratings  ·  80 reviews
As a young black man in the segregated South of the 1920s, Wright was hungry to explore new worlds through books, but was forbidden from borrowing them from the library. This touching account tells of his love of reading, and how his unwavering perseverance, along with the help of a co-worker, came together to make Richard's dream a reality

An inspirational story for childr
...more
Paperback, 32 pages
Published October 1st 1997 by Lee & Low Books
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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Mississippi Library Commission
The words he had read echoed in his ears, colored everything he saw. He wondered if he would act differently, if others would see how the books had changed him.

The meat of this picture book is pulled from an incident in Richard Wright's autobiography, Black Boy. We reread this book for the anniversary of Richard Wright's birth last month (September 4, 1908) and again marveled at the lovely adaptation. Denied books by the Memphis library's segregation policies, Wright borrows a library card f
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Malinda Faber
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: elm-572
Richard Wright and the Library Card is a biography that tells the story of internationally acclaimed American author Richard Wright, and his unwavering effort to gain access to library books as a young man during the Jim Crow era. While working his way to a new life in the northern United States, a white co-worker helped Richard, an African American, satiate his thirst for books by loaning Richard his own library card. The access to stories and knowledge forever changed Richard’s life.

Written fo
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Chantal
Aug 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Parents, Teachers, Adolescents, Children of Color
Richard Wright and the Library Card (1997) by William Miller with colored pencil and acrylic art by Gregory Christie, is “a fictionalized account of an important episode from the life of Richard Wright” (Miller, 1997, Author’s Note). Central to this tale is a quest for self-empowerment, the determination of a black man to chart his own path during a time and in a place where the only road for a person of color was a dead end.

In a vein similar to that of Trisha’s in Patricia Polacco’s Thank You,
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Barbara N. Hernandez
Text-to-Self Connection: How does the story connect to your personal experiences or background?

This book broke my heart. As an avid reader myself, I often don't realize how accessible books are to me. I personally own over 100 books and continue to collect more regularly. This story reminded me that some people are not as lucky. Richard was so desperate for the need to read books that he risked his life to read them. I can't imagine the fear associated with asking for a library card knowing you
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Andrew J
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book, my goodness gracious this book is a powerful, moving story that would easily persuade any reader to continue to pursue reading. The trials and tribulations that the protagonist goes through hit a personal note with me and just drew me in to the story even more. The images seemed a minor note in the story, as if they were a backdrop in a play. No end pages, the book begins with a title page and a dedication page. Even though the story pertains to a young african-american male during a ...more
Jana
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I shared this book with my fifth grade students and they enjoyed it. It was a fascinating story about a young man in the 1920s who wanted to read books from the library. Because he was a black man in the South, he wasn't allowed to get a library card. A caring coworker allowed him to use his library card. The paintings are so meaningful, they really capture the emotions that the author and readers felt as we lived this experience together.
Jamie
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens-ya
This is the sad and inspiring story of Richard Wright's first encounters with books and a library that was not open to him because of his skin color, but who got access via a white colleague's library card.
Kris
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Excellent, thought-provoking picture book that is an especially good reminder to librarians that we have not always been on the forefront of accessibility and social justice. We like to hold up libraries as paragons of virtue, but they were, and still are, inaccessible either by policy or geography, to some people. Library leaders, use this book and others like it to examine where your facility has progressed, and where there are still barriers to access.

Four stars only because I wasn't a huge
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DJ *The Bookish Den*
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a great story! This is about an African American man during segregation, gaining access to the library through the help of someone unexpected. Such a beautiful story. I’ll be reading this to my kids over and over again.
Natalie Sher
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Grades: 1st and up
Genre: Picture Book (Narrative Non-Fiction)

This is an excerpt taken from the Author’s autobiography and made into a picture book. During segregation, Richard Wright wanted to check out books from the library. He wasn’t allowed to because black people were not allowed to check out books at that time. This book marks the turning point in his life, when a white man helps him check out books. In our classroom, we used this book for teaching a strategy for making inferences. This st
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Elizabeth Roe
Grade/interest level: Primary/Upper Elementary (2nd-5th Grade)
Reading level: Lexile, 700L
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Main Characters: Richard Wright
Setting: The south of the United States, approximately around the time of the Great Migration
POV: Third person

This book is a fictionalized story about Richard Wright, well-known author of Black Boy. This book is about a story that Wright wrote about in his novel, however, some events are not entirely accurate as explained by the author at the end of the
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Melanie Abril
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sean
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Richard Wright and the Library Card

"...the words he had read echoed in his ears, colored everything he saw. He wondered if he would act differently, if others would see how the books had changed him. Richard knew he would never be the same again"

Richard Wright and the Library Card is a story, based on an excerpt from Black Boy, about the main character's longing to read and yearning for freedom. Richard Wright is an African-American male working whatever odd jobs he can find. Richard secures a j
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Hannah
Dec 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Richard dreams of reading real books; but when he finally learns to read, he cannot afford to buy books and the library doors are closed to him because he is black. He eventually convinces a man named Jim to let him use his library card. Jim is shocked at first by the powerful books that Richard checks out, but he smiles, impressed by Richard's skill and hunger for words.
This historical fiction story is an accurate portrayal of the hardships African-Americans faced after the civil war, especia
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Amanda
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Honestly, I found this book a little bit slow, considering how genuinely compelling the subject is, but the pictures are beautiful and emotive, and since it made me aware of Richard Wright in the first place (which, in turn, turned me to seek out his own works), I still consider this a great children's book.
Isa
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Richard Wright and the Library Card is about a young man named Richard Wright who grew up in racist times. All Wright wanted to do was read books. The problem was Wright could not afford books and was not allowed to have a library card. That all changed when his coworker Jim Faulk let him use his library card. Wright and Faulk form a friendship that nobody else understands. This book is also filled with beautiful illustrations that children will love to look at.

The themes in this book are toler
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Christina Taylor
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
Richard Wright and the Library Card is a fictionalized account of a scene from Wright’s life. As a seventeen-year-old black male living in Memphesis, Tennessee in the 1920s, Richard Wright did not have access to the same opportunities—such as borrowing books from the library—as his white counterparts. Convinced that education was his ticket to freedom, Wright desperately wanted to gain access, and with the aid of a white co-worker he was able to do just that. Christie’s impressionistic illustrat ...more
Kate
Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: storytime
I love the way this book illustrates racism in a way that children can understand without making it too disturbing for them. Happily, most children won't know there was a time when race was enough to keep you from basic services we take for granted. The library card is especially compelling because it's something more children will immediately understand. This book is beautifully written and illustrated and it makes its point by telling a true story which makes the content all the more compellin ...more
Mandy E
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-babes
My four-year old twins and I checked this book out from the library where it was featured in a "Celebrate Black History Month" display. This extraordinary book presents, in a way both visceral and central to the themes of Wright's own work, the daily fear and humiliation suffered by the people during the American apartheid. It also presents the idea of access to a library, which is often taken for granted, as a right to be valued, preserved and made available to all. After reading the book, the ...more
Mi Y.mun
This book is very inspiration to young readers. They may value and respect what they have. This book was based on true story about the author of Black Boy, Richard Wright. This book contains how an African American boy experienced, faced racism and oppression. The writer describes how Richard Wright eagerly wanted to read books, how he overcame his obstacles and became a writer. The author writes detail descriptions about the way a person obtains freedom and experiences the power of books. I cou ...more
Abby
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first thing that caught my eye when I picked up this book were the pictures. The author used what it looks like to be water color. I was extremely impressed by it's presentation. My overall impression of this book was that it was applicable to our every day lives. Miller teaches the lesson that we should seek to find some level of understanding, to even those who are cruel to us. It taught that books can help change and shape people's minds. I liked that that the author made this book histor ...more
Matthew
This was a great biographical account of Richad Wright, the author, during his time working for a optical company and his endeavor to gain access to the public library, off limits to him because of his skin color. It is an inspiring story, despite the general attitude of the white people that Richard encounters. Jim Falk is the white co-worker that allows him to access the library through a little trickery, claiming that Richard is checking out books for him because he's too busy to do it himsel ...more
Giselle Avina
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
It wasn't until after I read this book that I realized it was based on true events experienced by a famous author named Richard Wright, which made it all the more powerful. The painted illustrations were very nice, and the book brought to life the reality of America's dark past; that African Americans were very discriminated, and often couldn't get ahold of simple things such as books to read. This heart warming story about an underprivileged boy who is blessed with the rare opportunity to read ...more
Michelle
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful picture book telling the story of author Richard Wright and what he had to go through to obtain books in the segregated South. Admittedly some portions are fictionalized for the sake of the story but it does open a reader's eyes further to the scope of segregation's impact. Wright wanted to read to educate himself but was not permitted to use the public library. A sympathetic white coworker loaned his card to Wright and sent a note with it that the books were for him and that ...more
Cara Byrne
Dec 01, 2015 rated it liked it
"Richard loved the sound of words. He loved the stories his mother told about the farm where she grew up" [...] "With the light of the sun coming through the window, Richard put down the book. He felt sleepy, but the words he had read echoed in his ears, colored everything he saw. He wondered if he would act differently, if others would see how the books had changed him. Richard knew he would never be the same again"

While these are some of my absolute favorites of Christies' illustrations, Mill
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Ruth
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Artwork in this book is rendered in an impressionist style with acrylics. (Pure guessing on my part, I really don't know.)
For me, the art sort of softened the blow of the actual story which is a man - a grown man - being told he can't read the books in the library. Racism is one of the stupider aspects that many humans choose to participate in.
I appreciated the boss who helped Mr. Wright out. A shining light in an otherwise stupid world.

I tried reading Native Son while in high school. It was a b
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Colleen Vincent
This is a fictionalized account of a story Richard Wright told in his autobiography Black Boy. Richard Wright, an important African-American author of the international bestseller Native Son, born in 1908, tells the story of how he gained access to the books at the public library through a co-worker. Wright, denied access to the books because he was black, had a thirst for learning and reading and was determined to satisfy that thirst. This story tells how he worked around racist laws to get wha ...more
Gmr
Aug 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Richard Wright was a young black man with the desire to read. The problem? Due to the times, he was not permitted to use the local library...until one day a man with an open mind lent him a helping hand. A great story that shows the power of reading not only over the imagination and throughout history, but also as a means of having the ability and confidence to reach for your dreams. Recommended for new readers of all ages as well as those that simply enjoy reveling in the wonder and joy that is ...more
Jordan Santoro
Jan 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is a reminder to not only recognize the power of books, but also not to take anything for granted. Richard's hunger for reading and books is inspiring. This well-written story addresses the issue of racism and civil rights, and the unfair and unfortunate set-backs Richard faces because of the color of his skin (ironic, as today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day). William Miller took a real-life issue and turned it into an easy-to-follow story that speaks to readers of any age and skin colo ...more
Millie Simonds
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot! It was set in Memphis Tennessee and was about an African- American man who worked as a janitor and just wanted to read. Richard wasn't aloud to have a library card because of his color so he found someone that would let him borrow his card. I believe that this would be a good book to use in a history lesson as an example of how things were before every race was free. This book is also a biography so I believe that it would give a very realistic portrayal of the inequalit ...more
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