Children's Literature - Leila Toledo
Richard loved to read but because of the color of his skin he was not allowed to have a library card. When he was 17 years old he went to Memphis where he planned to work and save enough money so he could go north to Chicago. Finally he found work in an optician's office and,with the help of one of his co-workers, he was able to take books out of the library. But his hunger for the written word overshadowed his unpleasant treatment. He spent his nights devouring Dickens, Tolstoy and Stephen Crane. In spite of how he was treated, Wright knew he would never be the same again. Reading books opened up a whole new world for him and gave him the courage and determination to persevere.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Picture book biographies help to provide valuable historical perspective. Richard Wright and the Library Card is the inspirational story of how the famous black novelist's hunger for literature and the kindness of a white man gave Wright the pages which became "his ticket to freedom."
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5In Memphis in the 1920s, public library borrowing privileges did not extend to blacks. Yet, 17-year-old Richard Wright's hunger to read inspires him to take a dangerous risk. He borrows the library card of a white co-worker and goes to the library with a forged note requesting permission to check out books for the man. The librarian treats him with suspicion, until Richard claims to be illiterate. This final act of self-deprecation elicits laughs from the librarian and other patrons. While the author's note acknowledges that this story is based on a scene from Wright's autobiography Black Boy, Miller takes significant liberties with the fictionalization. A comparison with the original shows that although the librarian questioned the note, she did not laugh at Richard. The harsh portrayal is reinforced through Christie's impressionistic illustrations done in acrylic and colored pencil. While this book is written in a straightforward, easily comprehensible manner, titles such as Marie Bradby's More Than Anything Else (Orchard, 1995) and Robert Coles's The Story of Ruby Bridges (Scholastic, 1995) describe a love of learning hindered by racism in a more inspiring way.Jackie Hechtkopf, Talent House School, Fairfax, VA