In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers

ISBN: 1584300167
ISBN 13: 9781584300168
By: Javaka Steptoe

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African American Ch 05 Poetry Children's Books Childrens Family Multicultural Picture Book Picture Books Poetry To Read

About this book

Fatherhood is celebrated with honor, humor, and grace in this intergenerational collection of poetry by new and established African American writers.

Reader's Thoughts


In Daddy’s Arms I am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers” by Javaka SteptoeGrade/Interest Level: 3rd-5th gradeGuided Reading Level: OGenre: PoetryMain Characters: African American fathers and children.Setting: none in specific, the book consists of all poems.POV: first person by the author of each poem.Summary: This poetry book is a collection of poems that celebrate with humor, honor, and grace the fatherhood by African American writers. This book testifies the powerful bond between father and child by recognizing family as our greatest gift, and identifying fathers as being among children’s most influential heroes. The purpose is to bring each one of the poems to life through a range of media.I would use this text to in my classroom whenever I am covering a theme on family, or when we are exploring the genre on poetry to show kids poetry books look like.Coretta Scott King Award


A poetic dedication to Black fathers. Poems and images beautifully dance together.

Sophie Gray

This book of several poems gives the message of the importance of a father and the heroic title that every father should hold. The poems are told through African American writers that depict humor into the poems, yet still establishing an emotional message to the audience. I believe that this is a beneficial book in children literature as family is an important part to every child’s life and they should understand the value of their father or male figure as to which they look up to. The way that the message is given, through the several poems gives the book character that students of all ages would appreciate and follow well. I was able to depict the reason for the writing of this book just by the first couple of pages, which I believe is a quality in a book that is important to have. Children would catch onto the message of the model of importance of their fathers and with most children valuing family a lot, it would catch their attention as they support the message and understand it due to the fact that children view their family and more importantly their father very heroic as they are who support and protect them.

Ryan Henry

The illustrations were good used all the white space. It is very family oriented

John Sullivan

In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall is a collection of poems from African American writers that was illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. Since it is a series of poems, there is not a storyline to follow, so the pictures represent the theme of the poem. The illustrations are extremely powerful since the text is simple and short, however the method the artist uses of putting many textures and shapes together in a collage format is not my favorite. Throughout the book, different materials are utilized and this makes each page different, but it also makes it difficult to enjoy. I would have rather seen the illustrations made of similar objects, or at least made in the same style, rather than a random assortment of resources. It was a creative and fun way to create artwork, however. I would use this story in a poetry unit in elementary school, because I think having themed artwork for each poem could benefit students and interest them more than a poem by itself could.

Leah Gerber

I loved the message of this book. Each page has a poem and each poem is illustrated differently. Children look up to their fathers and are inspired by them and that emotion is expressed by the illustrations in this book. The illustrations show different perspectives of a fathers’ role and helps develop the characters. It’s a simple yet meaningful book and the pictures bring out the lightheartedness of the mood. This is a Coretta Scott King Award winner. This book is for young elementary students. I would recommend using this book during circle time or at bedtime. It works inside the classroom as a feel good book and it celebrates diversity, always a good touch. In the classroom this book could spark fun stories about children and their fathers, but could be a sensitive subject to talk about out loud, so know your students personally and plan accordingly.Steptoe, J. (2001). In daddy’s arms i am tall: African americans celebrating fathers. New York, NY: Lee & Low Books.


In my fathers arms I am tall is a book of poetry. It is for readers in the intermediate age range of 8-12 yrs old. This book is a collection of 13 poems from 12 different poets. This book talks about the bond and empowering relationships of father's and grandfather's with their children. This book at first glance appears to be for the african american father only but this book is for all father's of all nationalities. I Loved It!! This book was so inspiring to read. The picture illustrations were beautiful. The artist used torn paper, cut paper with pastel and the collages and the paintings contain many found objects. Some objects include scraps from a tin ceiling, floorboards salvaged from a building renovation in Brooklyn New York among others. The pictures were real art images in my eyes. It is beautiful. The title itself is very catchy to the reader and from it alone I think a young reader would pick up the book. Children look up to their fathers. Their father's are their heros and they would be willing to read anything that described a father being a hero. This book won the Coretta Scott King Award

Paul Hankins

From the first pages of IN DADDY'S ARMS I AM TALL: AFRICAN AMERICANS CELEBRATING FATHERS:"When you follow in the path of your father, you learn to walk like him." Ashanti ProverbThe poems in this collection capture those special feelings for fathers that are often spoken in retrospect, like Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays." Here, the poems about fathers--African American fathers--are celebrated in present tense AND in nostalgia.Angela Johnson speaks of her memories of her father's hands, hard and calloused from making bricks, in "Her Daddy's Hands":But on Sundays,those hands, you seefelt soft,and I would hold hers and walk her to churchQuietly, Him in black, her in whitealong those red Alabama roads.Dakari Hru's poem, "Tickle Tickle" recalls a playful game between a father and a daughter. The piece calls to mind Theodore Rhoethke's "My Papa's Waltz." Is this a game? Is there something more to this memory? Hru's piece is written in a playful, vernacular-rich style that begs for read-aloud:me papa tickle me feethe call it "finger treat"me scream and run each time he comeme papa tickle me feet"The Things in Black Men's Closets" is a tender piece, looking at how memories are stored away. A younger narrator in the piece watches his father search "between sweaters and suits/looking for something missing/a tie perhaps." There is some real power in that last line, something that might get overlooked on a casual read. E. Ethelbert Miller's poem would be neat to workshop.Javaka Steptoe, the son of classic picture book author/illustrator John Steptoe, not only illustrates the collection with his captivating collages (created with coins and fabric, pieces left over from a renovation project in Brooklyn, parts from an old tin roof, seeds). Steptoe's illustrations really bring the package of the collection together, but he offers this piece that speaks to the vocation--of caring for and rendering words and images--that has been passed down to him in "Seeds":You drew pictures of lifewith your words.I listened and ate these words you saidto grow up strong.Like the trees, I grew,branches, leaves, flowers, and then the fruit.I became the words I ate in you.For better or worsethe apple doesn't fall far from the tree.As National Poetry Month approaches, this 1997 collection of poems, from Lee and Low Books, is not to be missed.

Leticia H

This a collection of poems celebrating African American fathers.

Amy Fretz

A variety of tools are used to create each image. In one picture the use of paper cut outs, paint, chalk, and stenciling can be seen being used. The technique of layering and angles is used to make the images jump off the page and appear three-dimensional. The use of unusual objects such as sand and fabrics are used to create dimensions on the scene. Each page is a photograph of the scene with the various elements. The look of the images is fun and will attract readers of all ages. Each page is different from the last and has many things to look at.

Audrey Schuman

These were all sweet poems that individual children and people wrote about their fathers that were compiled into one book. They were all different, some were long and had rhyming but some were small and simple with no rhyming at all. They used great metaphors such as the poem that compared her father’s basketball game to a thunderstorm. The illustrations were very interesting and bright and accompanied the poems well.

L11-Mary Utterback

This is a collection of African American poetry. The authors are all African American and they have embedded family traditions into their poetry.

Sandi Rossman

I reviewed this book for the poetry category (picture book assignment). This book won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award in 1998.This book is a collection of poetry paying tribute to African-American fathers who are strong, wise, inspirational, and loving. It is easy to see a common theme running through the straightforward, honest poetry: good daddies shape the people we become in life.The art in this book is mixed media and evokes strong emotions through pictures that are just as strong as the words themselves. The pictures seem layered at times as each individual picture tells a story by itself that keeps going even when the poem is over. The pictures have to have strength on their own to honor the men in the poems. As I read this poetry, I could feel my heartbeat quicken and tears come to me eyes. I am lucky enough to have a daddy of my own who rivals the men in these poems. Those of us who are lucky to have fathers such as these know what treasures we have. All children deserve to know daddies like the ones in this book.A possible classroom use for this book is to break down barriers when it comes to writing poetry. Writing poetry can be intimidating, especially for children. This books show children that poetry can and should evoke emotions even when written about common subjects like dads. This book could also teach important character traits because the men in the poems embody those traits.

Taylor Parker

In Daddy's Arms: I am Tall is a very inspirational book. Its a poem book that is full of poems celebrating African American fathers. In the African American culture there are several single mothers so it is great that this poem book is highlighting African American fathers. We are reading in class that it is good to have books that students can connect to and I think this would be a great book for a teacher to have in their library especially if they are working with African American students.


This is a beautiful collage of construction paper, etc that depicts African American kids bonding with their dads. There are brief poems which explain what’s occurring on each page.

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