Over 50 years ago, Ezra Jack Keats published a book that transcended the publishing industry’s lack of diversity. The Snowy Day features an African-American boy and his father exploring the city streets after a large snowfall.
Keats’ work went on to win the Caldecott Medal, which awards the most distinguished American picture book for children. According to NPR,
“Ezra was criticized for presuming to be able to write about a black child,” explains Deborah Pope, executive director of The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. But Keats had a simple response. He said he put black characters into his books “because they’re there,” Pope says. Keats felt they’d “always been there, but we’ve never seen them — we need to see them.”
Now, Andrea Davis Pinkney has created a tribute to Keats with her book, A Poem for Peter. Pinkney uses Peter and Keats to be the forefront of her book. Keats was ahead of his time. Featuring diverse characters is necessary for children to learn and understand that that’s how the world is.
Like a snowflake you fell,
right into our hearts.
A little Snowy Day surprise!
Like a crystal flake from the clouds,
you fluttered down
with your own one-of-a-kind
–A Poem for Peter
An animated version of A Poem for Peter is streaming on Amazon.
Images courtesy of NPR