One book that I have recently come across, Let’s Talk About Race, was not only an eye-opener, but a moving account of how we can bring up the discussion of race with children. Because children are sometimes teased in school because of the color of their skin, and even adults are singled out for their minority status, it’s important that we all dig deep inside to understand that our differences shouldn’t set us apart, but bring us together.
The book’s author, Julius Lester has written over forty books and received the Coretta Scott King Award, the Newbery Honor Medal and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award. Illustrator Karen Barbour contributes dynamic drawings of individuals from various cultures, with hues of yellow, shades of green, people with brown faces, tan faces, even faces that blend into the page background. Not only are you sucked into the words of Let’s Talk About Race, but you become consumed with the images as well.
Lester makes the point that we are all a story, and while our own story may seem specific to us, the people around us are part of that story, too. Race itself is a story, too, but almost always the statement is, “My race is better than your race.” Lester makes it a point to say that this story is not true and acknowledges that those who feel they are better than others, whether it’s because of race, where they live or how much money they make, are only saying it out of fear.
Another aspect of Let’s Talk About Race that I love is how Lester provides a physical example of how we can tell that underneath our skin, we are the same. He asks for you to take your fingers, press gently below your eyes, until you feel bone. Then ask a friend if you can do the same. Take your fingers, press gently below their eyes, until you feel bone. Is there anything that’ s different?
“I am a story. So are you. So is everyone.”-Julius Lester, Let’s Talk About Race
We, as human beings, are not only the color of our skin. We are stories. We have details, and when others begin to see those details, it brings us all together. So, here’s my story:
My name is Brittany. I’m African-American, I’m a woman, but that’s not all. I was born in Kentucky. I used to live in London, England. I love candy and hate turbulence. Like Julius Lester, I am a writer.
Our stories bind us together. The details within help us acknowledge that we are more than what appears on the surface. Understanding these details allows for us to see individuals from various cultures and backgrounds, with hues of yellow, shades of brown and faces that blend into the background, as more than just their race, but as a validated and respected human being.
So, what’s your story? Tell us in the comments below!
Talking about race is hardLet's Talk About Race makes it easier
Brittany is a Children’s Library Assistant at Main, where she enjoys reading stories, singing songs and ending her story times in a multitude of bubbles. Reading isn’t her only love; she also enjoys writing for children and adults alike.