A Door Made for Me
Tyler Merritt, Author
Lonnie Ollivierre, Illustrator
WorthyKids, Fiction, Sep. 13, 2022
Suitable for ages: 5-8
Themes: African-Americans, Racism, Racial injustice, Intergenerational relationships, Self-esteem, Hope
Opening:“I watched our house with its bright blue door get smaller and smaller as we drove away. I didn’t want to spend the summer at my grandparents’ house. I didn’t know anyone there. What would I do? Who would I play with?“
Book Jacket Synopsis
The door shut tight…followed by the loudest lock I had ever heard.
In this poignant story based on a childhood experience, Tyler Merritt uses the metaphor of doors to explore the pain that come from blind prejudice.
When a doors slams shut and he is left standing alone on a front porch, young Tyler becomes deeply aware for the first time that some people will judge him based only on the color of his skin. Struggling with this new understanding, has asks his grandfather: “How can someone hate me when they don’t know me?”
His grandfather’s response not only affirms the young boy’s worth, but also encourages him to think about others around him who many need an ally.
This powerful story — told with heart, hope, and empathy — can serve as a starting point for conversations about race and equality for all families.
Why I like this book:
Tyler Merritt’s frist encounter with racism as a boy will capture the hearts of all readers. His prose is exquisite. I love his candor and how he uses a door as an important metaphor in his story — in both negative and positive ways. Readers will experience Tyler’s confusion, the betrayal of a friend and feel his pain. Lonnie Ollivierre’s warm and beautiful illustrations are lively, expressive and emotive, as he captures this powerful story.
His story is so beautiful and yet heartbreaking in other ways. Tyler visits his grandparents for the summer and makes friends with a boy, Jack. They spend every moment they can outside catching worms at night and fishing during the day. Joy abounds when the boys catch three buckets full of fish one day. They are proud and Jack wants to stop and show his friends. But three doors are slammed in their faces. Reality hits Tyler.
I enjoyed the loving relationship between Tyler and his grandfather, who answers all of Tyler’s questions and helps him work through his feelings. Grandparents are so important to children as they posess wisdom and are uplifting.
Tyler Merritt, please keep telling your stories as children of all ages will benefit from your honesty and hope. This is a perfect family and classroom discussion book. And from some of the reviews I read, teachers are having some very important discussions with their students. There is also a video of Tyler Merritt that can be used.
Resources: Make sure you check out “Note from the Author.” Merritt lists some good questions for all kids to consider and they can be conversation starting points. For instance, “If you were Jack, how would you have responded in that situation.” And “How would you support your friend.” Readers will also learn what happened to Merritt’s relationship with Jack.
Tyler Merritt is an actor, musician, comedian, and activist behind The Tyler Merritt Project. Raised in Las Vegas, he has always had a passion for bringing laughter, grace, and love into any community that he is a part of. For over twenty years, he has spoken to audiences ranging from elementary and Sunday school students to nursing home seniors. His television credits include ABC’s Kevin Probably Saves The World, Netflix’s Messiah and Outer Banks, Disney/Marvel’s Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Apple TV’s upcoming series Swagger. Tyler’s viral videos “Before You Call the Cops” and “Walking While Black” have been viewed by 60 million people worldwide with “Before You Call the Cops” being voted the most powerful video of 2020 by NowThis Politics. He is a cancer survivor and lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
*Reviewed from a library copy.