Our Skin: A First Conversation about Race (First Conversations)

by Megan Madison (Author) Isabel Roxas (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

Based on the research that race, gender, consent, and body positivity should be discussed with toddlers on up, this read-aloud series offers adults the opportunity to begin important conversations with young children in an informed, safe, and supported way. Now available as a hardcover picture book!

Developed by experts in the fields of early childhood and activism against injustice, this topic-driven picture book offers clear, concrete language and beautiful imagery that young children can grasp and adults can leverage for further discussion.

While young children are avid observers and questioners of their world, adults often shut down or postpone conversations on complicated topics because it's hard to know where to begin. Research shows that talking about issues like race and gender from the age of two not only helps children understand what they see, but also increases self-awareness, self-esteem, and allows them to recognize and confront things that are unfair, like discrimination and prejudice.

This first book in the series begins the conversation on race, with a supportive approach that considers both the child and the adult. Stunning art accompanies the simple and interactive text, and the backmatter offers additional resources and ideas for extending this discussion.

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Publishers Weekly

This accessibly written, adroit primer prompts the youngest readers to consider how skin tone relates to race and ethnicity, societal treatment, and justice. Madison and Ralli open with several pages featuring simple sentences centering skin, each followed by a gentle, well-chosen discussion question on the facing page: "Our skin is beautiful, strong, / and important just the way it is!// What do you love about your skin?" The duo then digs deeper, explaining melanin, race, and racism, with illuminating examples: "Racism is also the things people do and the unfair rules they make about race so that white people get more power, and are treated better, than everybody else." Dot-eyed, clearly emotive characters by Roxas, vibrantly rendered and digitally collaged, are of varying age, ability, religion, and skin tone. An ideal conversation starter for any child. Back matter relays opportunities for adults to begin talks about skin color, race-related observations, family diversity, identity terms, and more. Ages 2-5. (May)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Toddler-PreS--A book that attempts to break down race and skin color in a nonjudgmental way, opening up the possibilities for discussion, sharing stories, and developing a path to critical thinking on the subject of racism. "We see different skin colors at the playground, at the grocery store, and on TV," states an opening spread, providing a neutral way into the discussion of how color became a system for unfairly sorting people into the haves and have-nots. Toddlers will feel the injustice even before they can pronounce the words. Friendly full-color spreads provide plenty of details to pore over. VERDICT Children and adults can come together over this book, which takes apart the meanings of race and skin color at the foundational level. It's a stepping stone on the path to understanding what it means to be human, with cheerful art and easy language.--Kimberly Olson Fakih

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"This accessibly written, adroit primer prompts the youngest readers to consider how skin tone relates to race and ethnicity, societal treatment, and justice. An ideal conversation starter for any child." - Publishers Weekly (STARRED REVIEW)

"This timely book is essential for all collections." - School Library Connection (STARRED REVIEW)

"An accessible, important addition to any anti-racist bookshelf." - Kirkus (STARRED REVIEW)

Children and adults can come together over this book, which takes apart the meanings of race and skin color at the foundational level. It's a stepping stone on the path to understanding what it means to be human, with cheerful art and easy language. —School Library Journal (STARRED REVIEW)

"[This] is the book we've been waiting for! Ralli, Madison, and Roxas did an incredible thing: they explained race and racism to young children, [and] also provided guidance to the adults who will read it to children." - Social Justice Books

"If there were ever a concept that was difficult to break down into terms accessible to young children, it is the concept of race, so adults will welcome Our Skin for its ability to just that." -Booklist

"Introducing concepts such as race and gender to children as young as two invites them to begin developing their own questions and thoughts about those concepts, allowing them to start having these conversations early."—The Root

Parents Magazine BEST BOOK Pick (2021)

School Library Journal BEST BOOK (2021)
Megan Madison
Dr. Megan Pamela Ruth Madison is a political educator and a lifelong student of radical Black feminism. She earned her PhD in Social Policy from Brandeis University. As a scholar-activist, her approach to research and practice is guided by the Sociopolitical Ecology of Development, a theoretical framework that she developed as a part of her dissertation. Megan has served on the boards of the National Association for the Education for Young Children and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. With Jessica Ralli, she co-authors First Conversations-an award-winning series of anti-bias books for young children and their grown-ups.

Jessica Ralli is the Early Literacy Programs Coordinator at Brooklyn Public Library where she develops & manages grant-funded programming including Books Unbanned Storytimes. She has an M.A. in Early Childhood Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and has taught in museums, schools, and libraries. Jessica is a contributor to School Library Journal, and in 2020, she received the Library Journal Movers and Shakers Award for her advocacy work in libraries. Jessica is currently co-authoring the award-winning First Conversations series with Megan Madison, published by RISE X Penguin Workshop.
Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9780593519394
Lexile Measure
550
Guided Reading Level
-
Publisher
Rise X Penguin Workshop
Publication date
May 25, 2021
Series
First Conversations
BISAC categories
JNF053140 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Social Topics | Prejudice & Racism
JNF069000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Diversity & Multicultural
JNF071000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Social Activism & Volunteering
Library of Congress categories
Identity
Identity (Psychology)
Picture books
Juvenile works
Prejudices
Race

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