Three Children’s Books About Race

Recently, my daughter-in-law and I were discussing the lack of diversity in children’s books. Bible story books, in particular, seemed to draw Biblical people lily white, when in reality they would have been Middle Eastern in appearance.

Not long afterward, I came across What God’s Family Looks Like, a post from The Story Warren about children’s books that deal with race. I looked up the main book mentioned, then followed a rabbit trail of recommended reading. I ended up getting these three books.

Why be colorblind when we can be colorFULL insteadThe first is Colorfull: Celebrating the Colors God Gave Us by Dorena Williamson, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. I love the tagline: “Why be colorblind when we can be colorFULL instead?”

The back of the book says this:

Imani and Kayla are the best of friends who are learning to celebrate their different skin colors. As they look around them at the amazing colors in nature, they can see that their skin is another example of God’s creativity! This joyful story takes a new approach to discussing race: instead of being colorblind, we can choose to celebrate each color God gave us and be colorFULL instead.

Imani’s Granny Mac helps gives the kids some perspective. My daughter-in-law said she wished adults would read this book, too.

When God Made You by Matthew Paul Turner, illustrated by David Catrow, doesn’t explain or emphasize race: the story just incorporates it naturally as part of who God made you to be. God planned each person with their particular gifts, appearances, personalities, etc. to reflect His image.

One line in this gave me pause: “Have faith but love more.” At first it seemed to downplay faith. But you could also read it as saying, “Have faith, but don’t stop there: love others.”

An inside page:

Trillia Newbell’s God’s Very Good Idea (illustrated by Catalina Echeverri) took several weeks to get here. I hope that means lots of people are buying it!

Trillia begins at the beginning: with creation. Making people, and making them in all different colors and varieties, was God’s idea. They would “all enjoy loving him and all enjoy loving each other . . . reflecting what God is like.”

But the first people chose to disobey God. That plunged all of us into sin. We don’t love God or each other as we ought. “Sometimes we treat others badly because they are different than us.”

But part of God’s very good plan was sending Jesus to come and live on earth, to show us how to love, to die on the cross so we could be forgiven, and to rise from the dead, and to give us the Holy Spirit to help us live for Him.

He also gave us the church as a foretaste of what it will be like in heaven some day, “lots of different people enjoying loving him and loving each other.”

I love that Trillia’s story is couched firmly in the Bible and the gospel. She gives an overview of creation, sin, and redemption in words a child could understand.

I didn’t get a chance to read these with my grandson. I sent him home with them. But I hope he enjoys them!

I believe children need to be taught early that God created all people in His image.

Now that I look again at the post I first mentioned, I see a whole list that I must have forgotten to look up when I got distracted earlier. So I will probably explore some of those. Now that we have some books with a good, Biblical worldview about race, I’d love to find some that just show kids of all different colors naturally as characters in a story.

Do you know of any good books for kids along these lines?

(Sharing with InstaEncouragement, Worth Beyond Rubies, Grace and Truth,
Hearth and Soul, Senior Salon)

9 thoughts on “Three Children’s Books About Race

  1. “One line in this gave me pause: “Have faith but love more.””

    Not having read the book, it seems like this might be a reference to 1 Corinthians 13. “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”

  2. My policy when choosing a bag full of picture books from the library (back when we could browse the library…) has always been to make several of them books featuring a non-white child on the cover. Some of these will turn out to be books *about* race, but others will be about a child who happens not to be white. Here’s an example of a good bag of books! Everything by Ezra Jack Keats is good, with both racial diversity and depicting children in urban settings with not much money; my favorites of his books are Hi, Cat! and A Letter to Amy. The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin is about a child’s embarrassment that her mother’s gardening is Chinese and different, but it works out when they introduce their neighbors to some great new food and vice versa. The Quilt by Ann Jonas is just a fun story that happens to feature a Black child.

  3. What a great post! I recently came across a children’s book called Remembering Green about a Native American girl experiencing forced assimilation in school back in the 20th century. I recently wrote a blog post about it, and I think you would enjoy it 🙂 It is so important to showcase diverse stories for the future generations to read and enjoy.

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