The new PaperTigers issue is all about “religious diversity in relation to end-of-the-year celebrations.” For Christians, the end of the year is about celebrating the advent of the birth of Jesus Christ. In Carol of the Brown King: Nativity Poems by Langston Hughes, the story is written about in six poems, beautifully and colorfully illustrated by Ashley Bryan. In the title poem, Hughes brings out both the paradoxically particular and universal appeal in worshipping the Christ child by identifying one of the Wise Men as “dark like me–/Part of His/Nativity.” In “Shepherd’s Song at Christmas” a little shepherd boy contemplates the kinds of gifts he can bring to the “King in the Manger” and settles on this one:
I will bring my heart
And give my heart to Him.
I will give my heart
To the Manger.
Ashley Bryan’s illustrations are rich and colorful depictions of the nativity. Bryan, who is known for his interest in the illustration of African American spirituals and poetry, has featured African-Americans as Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus, and as the shepherd boy and one of the Magi in this book. His illustrations contextualize the story in a way that departs from the traditional depictions of these Biblical figures and also creates points of identification for African Americans to this story. By reading and viewing a book like Carol of the Brown King, a child can have a wider, richer view of the Incarnation.
How do you tell the story of Christmas to your children? What books do you like to read to them at this time of year? What events do you like to take them to? Do drop us a line at PaperTigers and share with us some of your holiday reading treasures.
This week’s Poetry Friday host is Diane Mayr at Random Noodling.