Saturday, February 8, 2014

Reading: Let's Talk About Race

Courtesy of teachingchildrenphilosophy.org 
"I am a story.  So are you.  So is everyone."
What's your story?  In the book Let's Talk About Race, author Julius Lester takes a personable approach with his readers, asking them rhetorical questions and teaching them all about himself.  His affable manner makes him a friend, and the wisdom that he shares is something to talk about indeed.  

In Let's Talk About Race, Mr. Lester explores how everyone has a story!  We all have parents, hobbies, favorite foods, and birthdays!  We also all have a race.  Some people are black.  Some are white. Some are Asian.  Others are Hispanic.  But no one race is better than any other, and no one person is defined solely by his or her race!  His central message is that if you strip away the skin and hair and color from a person, you are left with bones and a story.  

This book shares a message for everyone, whether they live in racially diverse environments or not.  I wish I had discovered this book before my fourth year of teaching so that I could have shared it with students that I have taught in previous years.  I have taught students who have expressed pride for their race, shame for their race, and confusion about race.  I like that Let's Talk About Race encourages students to be proud of their stories, race included, and to listen to the stories of others.  

The message of this book and the illustrations drawn by Karen Barbour make it a memorable read.  All of the pages feature colorful backdrops, and the skin tones of the people represented in the book vary from brown to black to beige to gray to orange and beyond.  Pupils are created from butterflies and dollar signs, hats are worn with birds on top or jewels.  People of all shapes and sizes are communicating - laying on the beach together, standing side by side, or going fishing.  Each person in Let's Talk About Race has a story to tell, and if I were guiding my students through this book, I would hope to stop at each page and brainstorm elements that could constitute each person's story.  Yet, how we do we really get to know about someone?  Well, we have to ask.  Let's Talk About Race opens up dialogue for students to start talking and learning about others' stories. 

Perhaps you would like to use this book in your own classroom.  This is a great
website that includes questions for discussion.  If you are looking for more books written by Julius Lester, try visiting his own website so that you can also learn more about him.  While I feel like we are already friends from his manner in Let's Talk About Race, I am excited to learn more about his story. 

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