Radiant Child

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

Book Category: Title reflecting diversity
Author & Illustrator: Javaka Steptoe
Copyright: (2016) New York, NY
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Summary: This book is a biography about the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat from Brooklyn, New York. When he was a little boy, he saw art everywhere and he knew that he wanted to be an artist for the rest of his life. He knew that he was going to be famous one day to showcase his unique, beautiful, and powerful works of art. Once his mom got sick, he continued to produce art and show all of his artwork to her when he visited her. Now, Jean-Michel is a well-known artist and his artwork is still viewed and admired in many museums and galleries.
Suggested Grade Level: 4
Lexile Level: 740L
Accelerated Reader: 4.4
Suggested Delivery: Read Aloud
Common Core State Standard: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.1: Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
5 Key Words to Describe the Book: Unique, Informational, Powerful, Cultural, & Influential
Electronic Resources:
  1. This website provides a more in-depth biography of Jean-Michel Basquiat, including information from his early years, how he became successful, and personal problems he dealt with: http://www.biography.com/people/jean-michel-basquiat-185851#personal-problems
  2. This website provides a summary of the book, where one can buy the book, and reviews and comments from people who have read the book before: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18552623-radiant-child
  3. This website contains a documentary on Jean-Michel Basquiat, the “Radiant Child,” which can help build schema for the text: https://vimeo.com/112151228
Key Vocabulary:
  • Artist: a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby
  • Masterpiece: a work of outstanding artistry, skill, or workmanship
  • Collage: a combination or collection of various things
  • Composition: a work of music, literature, or art; the way in which a whole or mixture is made up
  • Radiant: sending out light; shining or glowing brightly
  • Culture: the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, such as language, religion, food, social habits, music, and art
Teaching Suggestions:
  1. Before, During, After-
  • Before: Pre-teach these vocabulary words and introduce Jean-Michel Basquiat by giving a little bit of information about him, such as who he was and where he was from.
  • During: Keep the students engaged by asking questions such as: “How do we know that Jean-Michel wanted to be an artist when he grew up?” and “How did Jean-Michel’s mom play an important role in his life and in his artwork?”
  • After: Provide students with an opportunity to look at some of Jean-Michel’s artwork. This may give them a better understanding of the type of artist he was and what may have influenced some of his artwork.
  1. Writing Activity- Students will write a prompt from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s perspective. They will write a 1-page response, formatted like a journal entry. They must write an accurate journal entry that reflects the life of Jean-Michel based on what occurred in the text. They will make inferences about the text, refer back to examples from the text, and make sure that they have an overall comprehension of the text as well as some of the events that occurred in Jean-Michel’s life.
Teacher’s Guide: http://littlebrownlibrary.com/radiant-child/

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