LS 5653 Module 2 African American-Book of Choice

King, Dr. Martin Luther. I Have a Dream. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2012. ISBN 9780375958878

I Have a Dream is an illustrated version of the last third of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s famous speech. In fact, this is the part of the speech that most people think of when they hear the phrase “I have a dream.” This is the part of the speech that is the hope for the future, not the problem or solution.

Nelson’s paintings are stirring. While most pages are two page spreads with multiple sentences, the three most potent pages actually have far less on them. Two of those pages are simply of Dr. King with one sentence (either on a blue or black background respectively). I say these are potent because they remind the reader that these words were once spoken. There was a voice behind them. The other powerful image is another deceptively simple image; that of a black hand and a white hand clasped. The page talks about working, praying and struggling together. Again, due to the lack of business in the image, it is more emphasized.

While the book is a good introduction for the speech for any audience, I would recommend it to high schoolers. I say high school because the last two pages hold the full speech verbatim. I know that, while many are familiar with the “I have a dream” portion of the speech, there are those who are unaware that the most commonly recited part is the ending. While there are a few reviews that state the first part of the speech is dated (and some specific phrases are), I feel the general premise of the entire speech remains true. The illustrated text, though technically the end of the speech, could be used as an introduction to the full speech. If used in a school library, it can be for a speech class, an English class, a history class, or even an art class.


Coretta Scott King Award-2013(Honor Book, Illustrator)


Booklist—“ there are images that expand on his stirring message, including a painting of a black teen and a white teen face-to-face, equal and connected, which accompanies the words “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood””

Kirkus—“ Nelson begins with the concluding paragraphs spoken on August 28th, 1963, with the Lincoln Memorial standing vigil over the massed assemblage. Dr. King’s opening paragraphs, with their urgent and specific references to America’s broken promises, slavery, discrimination and injustice, along with an acknowledgement of a “marvelous new militancy” are not often quoted.”

Kirkus. Kirkus Reviews. 2012. (Vol. 80, No. 18). Accessed via CLCD at

Rochman, Hazel. Booklist. 2012. (Vol. 109, No. 1). Accessed via CLCD at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s