His white teacher tells her all-Black class, “You’ll all wind up porters and waiters”. What did she know? Gordon Parks is most famous for being the first Black director in Hollywood. But before he made movies and wrote books, he was poor and looking for work. When he bought a camera, his life changed forever. He taught himself how to take pictures and before long, people noticed. His success as a fashion photographer landed him a job working for the government. In Washington DC, Gordon went looking for a subject, but what he found was segregation. He and others were treated differently because of the color of their skin. Gordon wanted to take a stand against the racism he observed. With his camera in hand, he found a way. Told through lyrical verse and atmospheric art, this is the story of how, with a single photograph, a self-taught artist got America to take notice. Ages 4–8.
About The Author
Carole Boston Weatherford is the author of several acclaimed poetry collections and poetic biographies, including Sugar Hill and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, winner of a Caldecott Honor, the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration, and the NAACP Image Award. She teaches at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.
Read Aloud Tips
- Create a reading theme around the author, who has published many social justice titles. Read her bio and have students make similarities between her books.
- Find some of Gordon Park’s pictures online and post copies around the classroom. Ask students to describe what’s happening in the photos.
- Using an old camera, have students take turn taking pictures of their classroom, specifically things they would want an outsider to know about their class.
“Weatherford writes in the present tense with intensity, carefully choosing words that concisely evoke the man. Parks’ photography gave a powerful and memorable face to racism in America; this book gives him to young readers.” – Kirkus Reviews