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Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race (socialjusticebooks.org)

 

Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race is the book we’ve been waiting for! The team (Megan Madison, Jessica Ralli, and Isabel Roxas) did an incredible thing: they explained race and racism to young children. Not only did they do it in a few pages of a board book, but they also provided guidance to the adults who will read it to children. As soon as you open the book, the reader is greeted with colorful representations of the authors and illustrator, as well as a note on the purpose and function of the book.

Laleña Garcia, author of What We Believe: A Black Lives Matter Activity Book, calls the struggle adults go through when trying to explain big ideas about the world to young people (that they often haven’t unpacked themselves) “mental gymnastics.” Madison, Ralli, and Roxas guide young readers through these gymnastics simply and clearly in both words and pictures.

The last few pages provide developmental insight by using direct language to explain the “why and how” of having conversations about race, race-related observations, family diversity, identity terms, stereotypes, as well as prejudice, race, racism, empowerment, and activism.

Babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary-aged children can use this book to begin or continue conversations about race. My preschool students (ages 3 and 4) engaged with the book over a few days. The first section includes interactive questions about skin color, affirming language (my favorite line is “Everybody has just the right amount [of melanin] for them”), and explains why you can’t use skin color to make judgments or assumptions.

To read more of Makai Kellogg's article, please click here.

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