“When I think of all the people, all those faces in my sight, if people are really colors, there should be more than black and white.” – From the book
Am I A Color Too? is a richly illustrated book geared to children ages 4-8. Written by mother/daughter team Heidi Cole and Nancy Vogl—with shimmering, vibrant illustrations by Gerald Purnell—this timely book addresses the concept of race and looking beyond the surface.
The main character, Tyler, is a young interracial boy who wonders why people are labeled by the color of their skin. Realizing that all people dream, feel, sing, smile and dance—regardless of their color—he asks, “Am I a color, too?”
Saying that he’d “like to find a word that fits me a like a shoe”, the poignant illustration shows him amidst boxes labeled “White”, “Other”, “Bi-Racial”, “Mulatto”, “Black”, and “Mixed”. Smiling, he has opened a box labeled “Human Being”, where rainbow-colored shoes set before him.
Highlighting that he’s “a person just like you”, he conveys that he’s not a color at all. In fact, who we are as people is so much deeper than superficial melanin.
My son really enjoyed Am I A Color Too?, but I have one misgiving: in our house, we never mention color. It’s irrelevant to us. A few weeks ago, we went to a restaurant and upon seeing a family of African Americans, he marveled “Look! Brown bodies!” I answered “Yes!...and aren’t they beautiful?” (We live in a rural, predominately white county so I think it surprised him.)
After reading this book, though, he now says, “Mommy, you’re white like the clouds!” This bothers me because I don’t want him to differentiate color. Maybe this is an unnecessary worry, especially since he loves all people.
However, for children of mixed races or children who encounter different ethnicities, this is a wonderful book emphasizing how we are all alike inside—sharing dreams, song, and smiles—and that people are unique individuals, not a color.
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