Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Literary Obama - Book Review

One might easily mistake the beautifully-illustrated book, I am Barack Obama by Charisse Carney-Nunes and Ann Marie Williams, for a traditional children’s biography. But it offers, in my view, a more innovative strategy by portraying our 44th President’s life simply as the story of a young boy and his extended family: the obstacles he faced as a bi-racial child with a single parent; his love of basketball, of learning, and of helping others.

Guided by the philosophy that “inspiration and optimism are the first steps” to children’s achievement, Carney-Nunes’s poetic second-person narrative speaks directly to young listeners through the life story of Obama:
You’ll travel far and wideAlong the journey of your lifeYou’ll know joy and happinessAnd you’ll know sorrow,you’ll know strife…

Parents and teachers who are already familiar with Obama’s background will recognize “Toot” and the landscape of Indonesia along with iconic images of his life and career. Additionally, the book contains an appendix with a brief bio, teaching resources, and personal essays by several children who have been inspired by the President. (”The same year Barack Obama won, I won,” writes 10-year-old Morgana, “I am currently the youngest president ever elected in my middle school…”) Their words suggest that Obama’s story can begin with any child and this is exactly point of I am Barack Obama.

Carney-Nunes is the author of several children’s books and CEO of Brand Nu Words publishing. She and Obama are also former classmates from Harvard Law School.