For about four summers in a row, our family hosted a little boy through The Fresh Air Fund who would travel from NYC to spend some time with us in Buffalo. We built some of our most lasting memories during that time. Visiting museums, hanging out at the town pool, going to the library and amusement parks. He and my daughter were the best of friends. I enjoyed getting to know his family and I was thrilled when they were able to come out to spend Thanksgiving with us one year. I just knew that his family felt like my family. But when I think back to that first night he spent at our house years ago, I remember him being uncertain about using the word black around us. Whether it be in reference to our family specifically or simply when using the term to describe the color of an object.
When I first started working in my school district, I sensed this same hesitancy around the word black in some of my students and I think it was because they were not sure if using that word would be offensive to me. This is why a book like Black is a Rainbow Color is important. It’s for those who will read this book and see the beauty of their blackness, represented in all shades, the brilliance of a culture as it sings out through the pages. It’s for the children who are curious. For those students who comment on my brown skin in contrast to theirs and as Angela Joy says it, “For children who ask difficult questions, and adults who brave the unknown for answers.”
I am grateful for this book because “Black is history. Black is family. Black is memory. Black is community. Black is the love that lives inside of me.” Angela declares this and much more with text that speaks joy, determination, and pride, making references throughout to artists, activists, and change-makers in history as brought to life through Ekua Holmes’s illustrations. At the book’s end, readers will find an Author’s Note explaining Angela’s inspiration, a Black is a Rainbow Color Playlist, details about some of the people and events that were mentioned, sample work, and a timeline. I look forward to sharing this book with my students.
This book is one of my #MustReadin2020 reads. This challenge is hosted by Carrie Gelson of There’s a Book for That. The idea is to set a goal for books that you are most excited to read for the year. I have twenty-two books on my list and this is the third one I was able to finish so far. Curious to see what my list looks like, check out my original post, #MustReadin2020 Reading Challenge.
Angela Joy | https://www.angelajoybooks.com/
Ekua Holmes | http://www.ekuaholmes.com/
Roaring Brook Press
Book Excursion | PLN Group of Rockstar Reading Educators| #BookExcursion
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Sulwe’s Black is beautiful. Her skin, the color of midnight, is elegant and radiant. Her very name means star and she has what she needs within to let her confident brilliance shine. But it’s difficult to shake off the heavy weight of being called “Blackie” or “Darky” and feeling like maybe she’d be able to make friends if her skin were a lighter tone. Her mom gives her words of encouragement that I hope will inspire every reader, “Real beauty comes from your mind and your heart. It beings with how you see yourself, not how others see you.” Read more.