One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance

I grabbed this one for the poetry section of my classroom library not knowing a lot about it. I’m so glad I did!

First, I got a crash course in the Harlem Renaissance, something I previously knew very little about. Then I got a lesson in poetry. Did you know there is a poetic form called “golden shovel” where a poet takes a line, or the whole poem, and uses each word to create a new poem using the original poem’s words at the end of each line? Talk about challenging!

So, in One Last Word: Wisdom From the Harlem Renaissance, Nikki Grimes took some of the best poems of the Harlem Renaissance and used them to create poems highlighting current issues and feelings. There is back matter which provides more information about each of the poets, and the artists whose work accompanies Grimes’ poems. It is truly a feast for the mind both linguistically and visually.

I use poetry in my Orton-Gillingham lessons to practice oral reading because the rich language and rhythm. I will definitely be taking some from this collection to use with my students.

Bloomsbury Publishing has a teacher’s guide for this book on their website in the “Communities” section.

One Last Word: Wisdom From the Harlem Renaissance has also been added to the “Poetry Collections” book list on the “Topical Book List” page, as well as to my Bookshop Shop on, an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores by making a donation every time a book is purchased on their site.

*Links may be affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission if you order through a link, which allows me to continue to buy new books to review.*

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