An accessible, important addition to any anti-racist bookshelf.

OUR SKIN

A FIRST CONVERSATION ABOUT RACE

From the First Conversations series

A conversation starter for adults and children on race, racism, and what to do about it.

Subtitled “A First Conversation About Race,” this book breaks race and racism down into simple terms and builds from there. It begins by asking readers to think about their skin and the skin of the people in their families. Through the context of differences in skin color, readers explore both the science of skin color with an explanation of melanin levels and questions like “What do you love about your skin?” and the social aspects of skin color and the ways that “people of color” are treated differently—both intentionally and not. The book skillfully tackles a broad range of topics, from identity terms to White supremacy, in direct and kid-friendly language. The nuanced summary of the different ways racism manifests is concrete and sure to spark important dialogue between children and the adults they read with. The message “Racism hurts and is always unfair!” is followed by suggestions for how readers can work to make change. People of many different racial presentations and ages, along with people with visible disabilities, are depicted in the bright watercolor illustrations. A “Continue the Conversation” section geared toward adults discusses helpful strategies for cultivating understanding of racism in even the youngest children.

An accessible, important addition to any anti-racist bookshelf. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-38263-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Rise x Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Overt moral instruction for the preschool set may attract occasional interest, but don’t expect kids to read this book on...

LETTERS TO LIVE BY

AN ALPHABET BOOK WITH INTENTION

Riddiough returns to the alphabet book’s didactic roots with this abecedarian guide on intentional living.

As the text remarks, we all “have the power to make our world a better, happier place.” Each lettered page introduces a different ethical principle in the form of a pithy alliterative imperative: “APPRECIATE ART”; “BECOME BRAVE”; “CHOOSE COMPASSION”; and so forth. The artwork portrays children engaged in simple acts and activities that are practical, relatable examples of each principle or ideal; for example, children can “INVITE IMAGINATION” by cloud-gazing on a sunny day, “VALUE VOLUNTEERING” by helping to clean up a park, and “JOIN FOR JUSTICE” by attending a street protest. A few of these visual object lessons are a bit vague or confusing; for instance, the text advises young readers to “RESIST RUMORS,” but the children pictured in the artwork are actually spreading them. Gilland’s digital illustrations, rendered using a palette dominated by pink and green, are serviceable, if unexciting. They are also inclusive, depicting kids with a variety of skin tones and hair textures, a Black girl wearing a hijab, a White girl using a wheelchair, interracial parents, and same-sex parents. The book ends by telling kids to “Z’S THE DAY,” but this pun may likely fly over the heads of the target audience.

Overt moral instruction for the preschool set may attract occasional interest, but don’t expect kids to read this book on repeat. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-7624-7308-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Useful and jolly.

WE'RE BETTER TOGETHER

A BOOK ABOUT COMMUNITY

From the Highlights Books of Kindness series

A tribute to human kindness, empathy, and mutual support.

In double-page spreads on unusually large board-book pages, different scenarios present preschoolers with a variety of ways to demonstrate acting in concert. A White family, including a very large dog, works together to clean up a large kitchen spill. A group of diverse kids helps a White friend who uses a wheelchair find a lost blanket. Two children, one White and one with dark hair and medium-brown skin, help a brown-skinned, hijab-wearing grown-up retrieve toys dropped by a stroller-riding tyke. The art is graphically clean and clear, with simple cartoon faces and geometric swaths of solid colors against white backgrounds; clear attention has been paid to diversity of racial presentation, gender presentation, and ability. A child with cochlear implants with straight black hair and medium-brown skin can be seen in two of the spreads, and a White child with light-brown hair wears glasses—even, strangely enough, in bed. The project ends with the youngsters in bed dreaming of all the good accomplished during the day. The following page includes quotes from 5- and 6 year-olds and the author describing things they have done to make the world a better place. The didactic nature of the text gets laid on a bit thick with the repetition of the “We’re better together…” refrain in every scene, but the lively art adds much-needed cheer.

Useful and jolly. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64472-328-9

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Highlights Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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