The Thursday Book Bite- Shades of People: diversity in books for children

Another one of our daughter’s favorites is: Shades of People by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly.

“Have you ever noticed that people come in many different shades?

Not colors, exactly, but shades.”

This book captures the idea that while none of us look exactly the same, we really aren’t all that different either. It is concise and honest as it explains that skin is just one part of each of us, and it really shouldn’t matter much what shade our skin may be. Instead of saying the typical: ‘people have many different colors of skin’, which focuses on what separates us, this book takes that idea one step further by concentrating on what is the SAME about us. We aren’t different colors, but different shades of the same color. What a radically positive and inclusive way to think about all people.

“Our skin is just our covering, like wrapping paper.

And you can’t tell what someone is like from the color of their skin.”

Part of what makes this book so powerful is the photographs throughout of kids (of all different shades!) doing what kids do; laughing, playing, running, talking. If this book had been filled with illustrations, I don’t think it would be as powerful of a statement. There is just something about being able to see actual kids, all different sizes, shapes, and shades, doing actual ‘kid things’. Photographs are always engaging for young readers, but what makes these so great is the familiar activities shown: recess on the playground, building sandcastles, splashing in the water, and playing at the park. Any reader (no matter their shade!) will be able to identify with and see themselves in the photographs throughout this book. The diverse representation of kids in the photos reinforce the main concept that while we may look a little different from one another on the outside, when it comes right down to it, we’re all pretty similar.

Since our oldest is three she has definitely begun to notice people around her more and more. As she developmentally moves away from being so focused on herself and her own little world I want her to be able to first see people for how they are similar to her, not different. Living in a suburb that isn’t the most diverse of suburbs means we have to be intentional about helping her see the World (capitalization intentional). We (as her parents) are responsible for developing her World View. One way that we are able to do this is through our time spent reading books together.  It is important to us that we provide her with books that show diversity and characters who represent all children, which help her to see and have a better understanding of others. Reading books which honor diversity isn’t the only thing that helps kids understand their world, but it is certainly helpful as they are shaped by what they they see and hear everyday.

Here’s a couple of other books we enjoy, that celebrates all shades and colors of people:

The Colors of Us by Karen Katz

Whoever You Are by Mem Fox

Enjoy some time reading together!

Angela (a readingteachermom)


One thought on “The Thursday Book Bite- Shades of People: diversity in books for children

  1. Pingback: …On Reading with Toddlers (and our most-loved books). | readingteachermom

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