I remember the first time I was made to feel like my skin color was inferior. In 4th grade, as I chatted with my 4th-grade crush, he told me my skin was brown because God overbaked me. His best friend snickered, “or he dropped you in poop.” With that, I immediately became very conscious of how different I looked next to my all-white classmates at my new all-white school. It’s not that I didn’t see color before, it just wasn’t important.
So when my oldest, age 6, started to talk about his skin color recently, saying he wished he was peach like his friends. I came at the situation with the full wrath of my childhood baggage. I asked him why he felt that way. He responded, “I want to be the same.” My oldest is shy and hates to stand out. We had a good conversation about how brown is unique and beautiful. The people we love who are brown. Then we read these wonderful books.
The Colors Of Us By Karen Katz
My kids loved the names given to the shades of brown in this book, creamy peanut butter, chocolate, caramel, cinnamon, leaves in fall, and honey. I personally love the childlike illustrations and bold colors.
A Spanish/English book that has a scientific approach to skin color, and talks about melanin and how it works with the sun. My kids love the science behind things, so this was a great book for discussion. I loved the back matter that emphasized we are not white, black, red, yellow, or brown, we all have melanin and we are all skin tone shades of melanin. My only critique is that I wish they showed dark-skinned people with freckles (because I am.)
The first time I saw this book, it was in my kid’s Montessori classroom. The kids enjoy seeing the faces of other children smiling and happy. I mean, who doesn’t? The photographs are interesting for even the youngest students.
A friend of mine also suggested the Crayola Multicultural Crayons, which I purchased right away. I didn’t want my son to have to decide between peach and brown ever again. Funny enough, even with his multiple options, he still chose brown. Maybe because it’s beautiful.
Salam & Peace