Book cover: Knock Knockby Daniel Beaty
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013.
Grades K-3

The daily Knock Knock ritual between a father and son is a huge part of a young boy’s life. What happens when one day his father is no longer there?

“And then one day the knock never comes. I wait, but Papa’s not there to play our game. And morning after morning he never comes.”

While the days without his father stretch on, the young boy begins to wonder and worry about all the things his father will not be able to teach him.

He leaves his worries in a note on his desk and wakes one day to find his father’s words in a poignant letter. His father reminds him to be his best and achieve his dreams, encouraging him to “KNOCK KNOCK down the doors that I could not.”

This book is heartwarming in its simplicity. The vagueness behind the father’s absence allows many readers to connect with the feeling of loss from an absent family member.

Knock Knock is based on a powerful spoken-word poem by Beaty that examines in more depth the pain of his father’s absence from his daily life and the lessons that he learned about knocking down doors of racism and poverty and on doors of opportunity.

For older students, use the book in combination with the video of Beaty performing his poem to explore the more complex issues related to the mass incarceration of people of color and the impact on children and communities.