Frightened of Skin Color
When I was in the first grade, we moved to a small mining town in Arizona. This was my first close encounter with a person with red hair. My teacher introduced me to Vivian who was to take me around the school yard and introduce me to the bathroom and the playground. Vivian had long copper hair, light blue eyes, spidery blonde eyelashes and eyebrows, and freckles everywhere! Boy, did she scare me. When she clasped my little hand in hers, I was afraid her freckles would jump right onto my hand. Without causing offense, I extricated my hand from her grasp and walked beside her. Needless to say, I avoided Vivian at all cost.
This was not the first nor the last time the color of skin and how it is perceived was an issue for me. For this reason I wanted to introduce the following books:
The Skin You Live In
by Michael Tyler, illustrated by David Lee Csicsko and published by Chicago Children's Museum. The rhyme is. wild with imagination and may not be for every reader, but I loved it. I especially liked when the story got to the issue of acceptance - It's not tall skin or short skin, or best in the sport skin; or fat skin or thin skin, you lose and I win skin...We all make a beauty, so wonderfully true. We are special and different and just the same, too!
All the Colors We Are - Todos los Colores de Nuestra Piel
by Katie Kissinger, photographed by Wernher Krutein and published by Redleaf Press. What I liked the most was the ability of the young reader to make a skin comparison from the color pallet that runs throughout the book. There is a explanation of the relationship between melanin and sun exposure. It ends with "skin color is one of the many ways people are special and different from each other."
Shades of People
by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly, photographs by Shelley Rotner and published by Holiday House. The photographs are of wonderfully diverse children. I especially like the words: "our skin is just our covering, like wrapping paper. And, you can't tell what someone is like from the color of their skin." The photo of many colored hands at the end is precious.
I love using children's literature to teach older children and adults about cultural diversity. I recently encountered the following TEDS Talk on the origins of man that addresses the color of our skin.