When taking the oath of office, Obama rested his hand on bibles that belonged to Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. The significance and symbolism of that led me to prepare this feature and postpone for now the one I had planned.
More books have been written about these these two historic figures than about any other Americans, but two titles are deserving of a lingering look. Both are illustrated with luminous paintings by Kadir Nelson. Even a quick glance at his website and the picture books he has illustrated reveals his artistic and interpretive talent and and his affinity for portraying the essence of historic leaders.
|Schwartz and Wade, 2012|
I HAVE A DREAM by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a picture book/CD combination. Most books with its twelve-by-twelve inch format would be described as oversized, but in this case it is right-sized. King's iconic speech and his stirring delivery have been replayed so often that at least snippets of it are recognizable to every generation. Although I didn't attend the event, I lived in that time and was aware that history was being made. Everyone was, whether they liked the direction in which he was leading the country or not. Nelson captures the density and intensity of King's words, phrase by phrase, on lush double-page spreads. The accompanying CD is the official recording of King's speech on that history-shaping day.
|Hyperion Books, 2008|
On the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of King's March on Washington, the use of these bibles for the inauguration was more than symbolic. It was a call to consider how we have advanced as a nation, and to honor those who helped us do so.
In my opinion both titles qualify as coffeetable books as well as picture books, inviting repeated inspection and reflection by readers of every age.
Are there other Lincoln and King picture books among your favorites?