Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Case Study No. 2014: Unnamed Female Librarian (Richard Wright and the Library Card)

Richard Wright and the Library Card booktrailer by Hazuki.wmv
A young African American man overcomes all obstacles and finds a way to get a hold of books so that he can read about the world.
Tags: african american history slavery racism book culture
Added: 4 years ago
From: hritzukn
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Richard Wright and the Library Card
William Miller

Being black was hard
back in the days ...
Had to move homes, and
can't go to the library if
you were black

What if you can't go to the
library and had
to read old, ripped newspapers
and books ...

Richard was engaged in books

Richard grew older and
moved to have a job but
was really hard and
didn't get to be invited.
But when he kept finding it,
he finally made it to be
cleaning an office.

Richard's big dream to read a
book was heavy in his mind
but never had a chance
because he needed a library
card and could
only get one if you were

Richard could not find
someone to help him
make his wish come true.

Richard kept his dream in
mind and one normal day
when he was mopping Jim's
officeroom, Richard asked
him if he could borrow his
library card. In the moment,
Richard's heart was pounding,
waitng for the answer.

"Ok ... only if you are going
to responsible of my library
card." Jim replied with a
small grin.
Richard stood up strait and
quickly made up a plan.

When Richard arrived at
the library, he walked in.
trying to fake that he had
to borrow books for Jim.
The librarian asked in a
high tone why he had come to
the library waiting for some
answer that will make her laugh.

Richard spoke out loud,
lying that he came not for
his self but for Jim. He also
added that he couldn't read
because he never
even learned to make the
librarian hear what she
was waiting for.

Richard took a deep breath
for not getting caught that it
was for his own good.
He examined the book
shelf and the amazing
books he had first touched.

He borrowed several
books and read until
the sun dimmed.
Richard had
accomplished his goal
to reaad books he
really wanted to.



Richard Wright and the Library Card

Age Range: 7 - 10 years
Grade Level: 1 and up
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books (October 1, 1997)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1880000881

As a young black man in the segregated South of the 1920s, Wright was hungry to explore new worlds through books, but was forbidden from borrowing them from the library. This touching account tells of his love of reading, and how his unwavering perseverance, along with the help of a co-worker, came together to make Richard's dream a reality

An inspirational story for children of all backgrounds, Richard Wright and the Library Card shares a poignant turning point in the life of a young man who became one of this country's most brilliant writers, the author of Native Son and Black Boy.

This book is the third in a series of biographies by William Miller, including Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree and Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery. All focus on important moments in the lives of these prominent African Americans.



This is a fictionalized story of an actual incident in Richard Wright's life. As a child, one of the things Wright wanted to do most was learn to read. One of the problems in becoming the reader he wanted to be was that he could not afford to purchase books. As an African American, he could not get a library card, but he was able to get a card from someone he worked with.

When a suspicious librarian accused him of getting books for himself with the card, he pretended that he couldn't read. Out of this incredible struggle for literacy, Wright went on to become one of the outstanding authors of his generation.

Genre: Biography



Richard Wright and the Library Card
By William Miller, illustrated by Gregory Christie

Many years before author Richard Wright achieved international acclaim for his classic novel, Native Son, he lived in Memphis and worked for an optical company where he swept floors and ran errands for his white employers. It was 1926, and the 18-year-old Wright loved to read; but he could not afford to buy any books and as a black man, he was not allowed into the public library.

Fortunately, Wright worked for a generous man named Jim Falk. Falk cared more about Richard Wright's intelligence and his desire to learn than he did about the color of his skin. Falk lent the young black man his library card and Wright began checking out books for himself, all the while telling the librarian that the books were for Mr. Falk. The world of literature was suddenly opened and in all-night reading sprees Wright devoured the masterworks of Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, Stephan Crane, and other writers. His life would never be the same again.

Richard Wright himself wrote about this episode in his autobiography, Black Boy. Here, Gregory Christie's illustrations of the young man and his life in Memphis are personal and touching, and make Wright's hunger for words almost palpable. William Miller manages to retain all the power of the original story even as he makes it accessible to younger readers. Between the illustrations and the story, what certainly comes through is the injustice of ignorance and the power and hope education can provide.



Richard Wright is an African American author best known for his novel "Native Son" and his autobiographical work "Black Boy." In "Richard Wright and the Library Card" author William Miller fictionalizes a story from the latter work that tells of how Wright was inspired to become a writer. Growing up in the Mississippi of the segregated South of the 1920s, Wright was only allowed to go to school through the 9th grade. His mother had taught him to read by using the newspaper and Richard read everything he could find. At the age of 17 Wright traveled north to Memphis, where he got a job sweeping the floors and doing other jobs in the office of an optician. Wanting to check out books at the local library Wright is told he cannot do so because he is black. The only things he can read are old books and newspapers that he finds in the trash. But then, with the help of a white co-worker, Wright is able to come up with a strategy for circumventing the rules.

Miller takes some liberties with Wright's original description of these events in his life, but for the most part these changes simply reinforce the elements of the story; for example, the librarian is suspicious of Richard until he lies and says that he cannot read, at which point the librarian laughs. The detail is not in "Black Boy," but certainly having the librarian laugh reinforces both the irony and the injustice of Wright have to lie in order to gain access to books to read. For that matter the language in the story is made appropriate for young readers, who do not need to hear the epithets in use at the time to understand the prejudice Wright and other African-Americans faced in the segregated South. Miller also does a nice job of setting up the anticipation of young readers who, even if they know nothing of Wright's literary accomplishments, quickly realize that he is going to be able to get to read some books and have to wonder how he is going to do it and beat the oppressive system of segregation.



After work, Richard walked through the crowded streets to the library. He felt as if he were on a train to Chicago, as if he were travelling north already.

But when Richard walked through the door, he felt the old fear again. Many heads were raised at the sight of a black boy in the library.

Richard kept his eyes down, not looking up until he stood before the checkout desk. The librarian put on her glasses to make sure she wasn't seeing things.

Richard handed her the note he had written and stepped back.

"Why can't Mister Falk get his own books?" she asked sharply.

"H-He's very busy," Richard replied, his legs trembling.

"All right," the woman said, "but you tell Mister Falk I'd rather see him in person next time!"

Richard roamed the stacks, unable to believe there were this many books in the world. He touched the leather spines, and fingered the pages he had dreamed about for such a long time.

"Are you sure these books aren't for you?" the librarian asked in a loud voice, when he went to check them out.

Once again, heads turned and Richard felt the eyes of white people on him.

He thought he had been caught, that he would never be able to read the books he wanted so badly.

But Richard told the lady what she wanted to hear, what she believed was true about all black boys like him.

"Uh, no ma'am," he said. "These books aren't for me. Heck, I can't even read."

The librarian laughed out loud and stamped his books. Richard heard other people laugh, as he walked out the door.

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