“I call myself a wordkeeper, or a keeper of words. I enjoy words and looking at them on all sides… Words are magnificent… They form rhythms of living in meaningful prose… It is the force of my desire, my wish to make myself understood, that powers these words.”
― Virginia Hamilton
You can walk into any classroom today and find a variety of books. The story-lines range from the environment, kids, funny animals, feelings, multicultural characters, and more. In the past, characters of diverse backgrounds were non-existent, even in schools that were mostly African-American. African-Americans could not connect with the characters of the story. Then, one man decided to change that.
In 1962, Ezra Jack Keats wrote the first children's book with a character with a diverse background, The Snowy Day. The story is about a small boy, Peter, who is experiencing a snow day outside of his home. In the following year, The Snowy Day won the Caldecott Medal, which during that time was a very high honor for illustrated books for children. Keats has illustrated almost 85 children books (written and illustrated 22).
The story of Peter did not end with The Snowy Day. Keats wrote six other books that included the life of Peter all the way to his adolescence. Keats believed that every child should be able to see themselves in books. He took a chance to make a difference by something so small and making others see the bigger picture. Ezra Jack Keats wrote, "If we could see each other exactly as the other is, this would be a