Inheritance A Visual Poem

inheritance elizabeth acevedo

Careful when opening..... this gorgeous cover and small book contain dynamite. It's love-filled dynamite. It's pride dynamite. It's fed up dynamite. It's life is going to be different for children from now on dynamite.

This is Elizabeth Acevedo shouting with a megaphone that her hair is beautiful and does not need to be anything more than it was born to be. This is Elizabeth Acevedo changing the world and shaping the future and declaring war on the old ways... the old perceptions...the old stereotypes and ... prejudice and racism.

It's about hair but she's really claiming the space to be valued for who she is, how she looks, what her heritage gave her and she is claiming that valued space for every child born this minute right now...and the next minute and the next minute and all the minutes that came before.

It's time for her inheritance to be celebrated, cherished, treasured, honored, valued.... and those gifts go forward to every child to see themselves and their hair/heir as fabulous.

48 pages                                    978-0062931948                                           Ages 8 and up

Keywords: poetry, hair, cultural identity, self acceptance, heritage, pride, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, middle school, graduation gift, new baby gift, poetry, self esteem, self image

Recommended by Barb Langridge,

*************** They tell me to “fix” my hair.

And by fix, they mean straighten, they mean whiten;

but how do you fix this shipwrecked

history of hair?

In her most famous spoken-word poem, author of the Pura Belpré-winning novel-in-verse The Poet X Elizabeth Acevedo embraces all the complexities of Black hair and Afro-Latinidad—the history, pain, pride, and powerful love of that inheritance.

Paired with full-color illustrations by artist Andrea Pippins in a format that will appeal to fans of Mahogany L. Browne’s Black Girl Magic or Jason Reynolds’s For Everyone, this poem can now be read in a vibrant package, making it the ideal gift, treasure, or inspiration for readers of any age.---from the publisher


In this small format book (5.5" x 7.5"), National Poetry Slam champion Acevedo's spoken word poem, "Inheritance" is beautifully illustrated and turned into a piece of artwork that is meaningful, emotional, and now, portable.

In hand drawn text of varying sizes, the lines of the poem become part of the pictures that support the ideas in the text. Curly letters that mimic the curls in the illustrations declare "Some people tell us to "fix" my hair", and then go on to elaborate on the experience of Black hair through the ages. From enslaved people coming in the holds of ships to the wide variety of descendants of the African diaspora, we see the various ways in which Black women have been expected to "tame" their curls in order to align with the expectations of white culture, but also the ways in which natural hair is being reclaimed and celebrated.

The impact of hair on how people are regarded, and the sometimes difficult interplay between cultures are explored. In lyrical, figurative language, the impact of multiracial relationships, especially regarding the expectations of resultant children, are addressed, and reassurances are made that no matter what the ethnic background, the children will be beautiful. While the words on the page are powerful, I'm sure that hearing Acevedo read them would be even more meaningful. This would make a great bed time read aloud to reinforce a child's self-worth and self-esteem.

The illustrations have bold lines and simple shapes, and the colors are very rich and saturated. There are many faces, lots of swirling hair, and word placements woven into the pictures. There is a lot of orange, yellow, and brown, making for a bright and visually appealing presentation.

While illustrated poem collections have been around for many years, we are just starting to see more that focus on the Black experience, like Alexander's Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, I can't think of too many books that are based on spoken-word poems, or that illustrate just one poem. Perhaps with this book and with Reynold's Ain't Burner All the Bright, there will be a new trend.

Recommended by:  Karen Yingling, Teacher Librarian, Ohio USA

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