Friday, February 21, 2014

Knock, Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty

I will never forget the first time I read Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson to my kindergarten class. When one girl asked the class who leaving was it harder for, the girl or the dad, one student named Tevin raised his hand quietly. He answered the question for all of us, "The dad. I know: my dad tells me."

I had worked with Tevin for 8 months and I had never known his father was in jail. In all of my invitations and time with him, I had never known. He rarely spoke in class, and here he was, setting us all straight and true about what it is like to walk away after a visit and leave your father in prison. I was stunned; this was just one more example of how children teach me. I can imagine this book by Daniel Beaty as doing something important for people like Tevin. I know it does something special for me.

Knock, Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me starts with a young boy whose father is around regularly. Then, all of a sudden, he is not. The boy can't figure out where his father has gone, and he leaves him a note. Seemingly months later, his father's voice lies within a single letter addressed to the boy. He finds his way through life without his father, but with his father's voice guiding his every move. It seems it might not be enough at the start of the book; while one can never replace a loved one, this letter and the message within maybe does about as well as is possible.

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