Picture Book Review: Take a Picture of Me, James VanDerZee!


Take of Picture of Me, James VanDerZee!

Author/ Illustrator:

Andrea Loney/ Keith Mallett

Year published:



A story about the photographer, James VanDerZee, his journey as an artist, and his significance during the Harlem Renaissance.


As a teacher, I love this book. I’m so glad it exists. This nonfiction picture book tells the story of James VanDerZee, an African-American photographer and his influence in art, and significance in capturing images that embodied the heart of the Harlem Renaissance. It won Lee & Low’s New Voices Award.

It addresses discrimination, work ethic, photography, and community. Big beautiful illustrations accompany the words, and at the end of the book are a few pages of additional information about VanDerZee and his legacy. I love that it shares a story about a man that many may not have heard of before, and it’s a fun story for kids to listen to!

Possible issues:

None, appropriate for all ages, and a great book to discuss racism and discrimination.

Classroom application:

This book can be used with so many units:

  • History – Black History Month, the Harlem Renaissance
  • Art/music – photography, Harlem Renaissance–listen to some jazz by Duke Ellington!
  • Reading and literature – the Harlem Renaissance–seriously, bust out all of the writings and poems from writers like Langston Hughes.


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