When you are older and able to make big decisions on your own, what do you hope to do to make money?
Will you go into business with your father or mother, or will you take another, different job that makes your dreams come true? If you could see your future, what do you hope it will it look like?
Long ago, a young man searched for courage within himself. He decided to listen to the voices of his ancestors, to get an education, and to hang on to hope. In the book “Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope by Nikki Grimes (illustrated by Bryan Collier) (c.2008, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $16.99 / $19.99 Canada, 48 pages), another little boy wonders if he could do that, too.
One evening after school, a boy named David was watching TV and he saw someone he didn’t recognize. He asked his mother who it was.
“That’s Barack Obama,” she said. Then she told David a wonderful story.
Once upon a time, she said, there was a boy named Barry whose mama was white as whipped cream and his daddy was black as ink.
Barry, his Mama, and his grandparents lived in Hawaii. There, Barry had friends from many places around the world but nobody gave that a thought.
But there was something heavy on Barry’s mind. When Barry was a little boy, his Daddy went away and Barry missed him. He always wondered about the man who was his father.
As he grew up, Barry thought about his place in the world. He’d seen poor people in his travels, and he wondered if he could help them someday. He thought about his life and his choices. He looked inside himself for courage and hope. And he studied hard in school. Education was important!
Through his life, Barry (who started using the name he’d been born with, Barack) kept hope in his heart. It was hope that he held when he learned how to be a leader. It was hope that he had when he said he wanted to be our president.
As he listened to the story of Barack Obama, David wondered. Could he do what Barry did? Could David make a difference someday, too?
Kids aren’t dumb, as you know. They recognize exactly what’s going on in the world, even though they may not grasp the back story. “Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope”, though written months before the November election, explains an historic event in terms that kids can understand.
Author Nikki Grimes says in her back-of-the-book note that “The air crackled with excitement…” during the primaries, and she does a great job conveying that emotion here. Illustrator Bryan Collier’s colorful drawings also tell the story well, so that even the smallest kids can follow along.
While we mark yet another history-making event, look for “Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope”. As a book to read now, this one is perfect for kids ages 3-to-8. It would also make a great historic keepsake for anyone who holds hope in their heart.