There are only a handful of books that stand the test of time, let alone children’s books. It’s even rarer that they carry important lessons that go well beyond a child’s mind. Next month would’ve been his 102nd birthday, but the legacy of Ezra Jack Keats has it’s stamp across many generations. The endearing author and illustrator broke the mould of children’s literature and was among the first to introduce multiculturalism into that sector.
Keats was known for his warm illustrations which introduced an urban setting to his readers. They was uncommon, unusual, but so unique and loved amongst his audience, especially by those in neighborhoods like the ones depicted, including my own mom. A Brooklyn native himself, Keatz created characters that were familiar to him, many of them people of color. Now, during Black History Month, it only feels right to remember the man who gave every child a chance to relate to literary characters. His use of collage created some of his most notable illustrations.
Here are nine of his most beautiful and significant book covers: