Kadir Nelson: A Living Legend that Inspires Learning and Creativity

Looking for Ways to Integrate Art into Your Classrooms?  Are you looking for a way to initiate lessons and discussions for Black History month?  Kadir Nelson’s writing and paintings are a wonderful place to start!
Have you shared the artistic talents of Kadir Nelson with your students yet? Wondering who Kadir Nelson is??    :   )  If you have ever heard of, or read, books like Henry’s Freedom Box (the story of Henry “Box” Brown), Baby Bear, If You Plant a Seed, Dancing in the Wings, or He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, you have experienced his work.  If you have not heard of the dynamic artistry of Kadir Nelson, you are in for a special treat!  He is a painter, author, and illustrator.  Initially, he illustrated children’s books for other authors.  Debbie Allen’s Dancing in the Wings and Brothers of the Knight are two of the first books that Kadir illustrated.  He would go on to illustrate books for Will Smith, Spike Lee, Nikki Grimes and many others.  
Finally, in 2008, Kadir ventured into the realm of being an author-illustrator.  His first venture into authoring and illustrating a children’s book was with We Are the Ship:  The Story of the Negro Leagues.
It took 7 years to write this book.  Kadir took the time to meet as many of the athletes as possible to research this time period.
One of my favorite books is Henry Freedom Brown:  A True Story from the Underground Railroad.  Who can resist the sweet, yet daunting, face of the little boy that stares back at you from the cover.  It is a great story about a man’s strong determination to gain his freedom from slavery. I am so glad that someone illustrated and re-told this story so that students can learn more about this incredible story of loss and triumph.

Here are a few more books that Kadir has either illustrated or authored and illustrated:
We have been really enjoying reading books that Kadir has either author-illustrated or just illustrated!

Dancing in the Wings is one of Kadir’s first illustrated books that was published.  I purchased it just because I thought that the illustrations were beautiful and because I love dancing.  I didn’t even know who Kadir Nelson was at the time.

Look at the beautiful faces of these great men in U. S History.
Their facial expressions and eyes just draw you in.

Kadir is not only an author-illustrator, he is also a painter.  His pieces can be found in the House of Representatives, on album covers (He has created covers for Drake and for Michael Jackson), in private art collections, he has created postage stamps for the US Post Office, advertisements for Coca-Cola, and a host of other art enthusiasts.   Kadir Nelson may not be a household name, yet, but I do believe that he will be one day soon.  He is the kind of artist that makes your mouth fall open when you see his work.  Have you ever looked at a picture thinking that it was a photograph and then realized that it was a painting?  That is the effect that Kadir Nelson’s artwork has on me when I see it.  I am a huge fan!  
One of my latest product postings in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, Teach Me T, is all about Living Legend, Kadir Neslon.  I called him a “Living Legend” because he is making Black History right now.  It is important for students to know that history is on-going and not stagnant.  The wonderful historical figures that we usually hear so much about opened doors for so many of us.  We are ever grateful to them.  However…. the story doesn’t end there!  Join me on this journey of learning about more living legends.  I hope that your students will enjoy learning more about Mr. Kadir Nelson.

4 Responses

  1. Hi, Chris!

    Great to see you here! I am glad that you like the book recommendations. Kadir Nelson is my favorite Author/Illustrator at this time. His work is absolutely beautiful, and his pictures tell amazing stories!

  2. Hi, Michele!

    My sister's name is spelled the same way. : ) Thank you for commenting! Yes, Kadir Nelson has amazing stories to share. My students really loved the books that he wrote and/or illustrated.

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Hi, I'm Tania!

I help creative and time-conscious teachers plan student-centered lessons that interest and motivate student learning so that lesson planning takes less time and is actually enjoyable! 

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