Racial tension is common in politics and news.
I never expected VPK in a Christian school would be my daughter's introduction to racial prejudice. It didn't take long for her to experience exclusion due to her skin color and to learn that the same classmates who excluded her also excluded people of other skin colors. And so, I had to talk with her about that. It was hard for her to understand. I tried to explain that God created us all with different skin colors and no one should be treated as lower or higher than another.
ColorFull: Celebrating the Colors God Gave Us by Dorena Wiliamson is a beautful tool that I can use to combat her own experience of discrimination and teach her sympathy for others. In ColorFull, Imani, Kayla, and Christopher learn about colors through playtime activities and a wise Granny Mac who leads the conversation into skin color. Essentially, the message is that all skin colors were chosen by God in his wisdom and love. All are equally loved by their Creator. Rather than trying to be colorblind, we can choose to celebrate the different skin colors we have.
ColorFull is a sturdy, hard-cover, children's book featuring whimsical, vibrant illustrations by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu. My daughters haven't seen the book yet because it's a birthday gift, but I expect the illustrations to hold their attention while I read. Discussion questions, appropriate for 4-8 year olds are included. I think my two year old will enjoy the story and illustrations, but the discussion questions will be above her comprehension level.
I recommendColorFull: Celebrating the Colors God Gave Usto anyone with children. Every child will eventually encounter racial prejudice of some form and this book can help them grow up with a healthy perspective.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Dorena Williamson loves a good story. And it’s been her life’s work to tell the story of her Lord through her roles as a mom of four children and a leader in the multicultural church where her husband is the pastor. Now, she’s gotten the opportunity to combine these into a children’s book titled ColorFull: Celebrating the Colors God Gave Us. You’ll want to read below about her vision for the book and how to help children love diversity.
The seeds of this story idea came to me a few years ago, and I assumed it might become a blog someday. Then in 2016, both Mattel and American Girl came out with dolls that featured darker skin tones. Having raised three black daughters, I was thrilled that mainstream companies saw the need for more diversity. At the same time, I felt frustrated considering that many Christians still adopt a color blind rhetoric that dismisses our racial uniqueness. A passion grew to help children and adults celebrate how God made us all.
I offer a different vantage point in ColorFull. From the time they begin to form words, toddlers are taught about colors around them. So why do we adopt "colorblind" rhetoric only around skin color? I think it's an awkward topic many are unaccustomed to conversing about. Unfortunately, the gap left from silence will get filled with harmful philosophies that reinforce bias if we don't intentionally teach God's truth. Racial differences are a visible part of our identity. Colorblindness diminishes the glory of God because he made every person wonderfully (Psa. 139:14). So teaching children to see other people's color as something to celebrate honors the truth that we all are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27)!
Sign up for ERLC Highlights
Because children of color are underrepresented in literature, I hope they feel delight in seeing characters in ColorFull that look like them. I hope the friendship of children across racial lines will be inspiring, and that all children, from the richest dark-skinned tones to the lightest, all know they are uniquely made by God and worthy of celebration. My "bonus" desire is for adults to read ColorFullwith the children in their church and at home, so that the message impacts all ages.
As a black family, we affirmed our children as babies and in everyday moments. Applying lotion to their skin, we reminded them that their skin color was beautifully made by God. We were intentional to have books and media that featured diverse characters so our four children had both literary windows and mirrors. ColorFull models how to find teachable moments to reinforce how God made us full of color. Proximity is key as well; if your entire environment is with people that look like you, make changes that shape your kids’ worldview and allow them to experience community with others who are not like them.
Book two is ThoughtFull: Discovering The Unique Gifts In All Of Us. The story centers around Ahanu, a Native American boy with Down Syndrome, who models how to be full of kind thoughts toward others. This book was inspired by my nephew Josiah who has taught us so much as a boy with Down Syndrome. ThoughtFull releases August 15.
Book three is GraceFull: Growing A Heart That Cares For Our Neighbors. The story centers around a homeless family, Asian, and Syrian girls who are church friends that learn how God gives us grace to share with others. It releases early 2019.
A few months ago I had the opportunity to review the first book in this series ColorFULL, which was the first book in this series, which is why I was excited to see the opportunity to take a look inside this one. Dorena’s writing takes children on a journey to see outside of themselves to consider the others around them. ThoughtFULL is about a young boy Ahanu. Fortunately it doesn’t appear that he hears the mean words of the other kids on the bus, but Joshua does and he’s not sure how to respond. This book is great for kids because not only does it start to show them how to respond to bullying, but it encourages them to be kind to other children regardless of their differences.
This is a book that I wish all schools could share with children, however I’m aware that many public schools wouldn’t allow it because of it mentioning how God has created each of us. It would make a great addition to a church or home library. It’s a great tool for parents to use to start the conversation with their children about bullying and kids with differences. While Ahanu in this story has Down syndrome, there are other differences that children can encounter in their school years. I honestly don’t feel that I can recommend this story enough. I hope the author comes up with more for this series, because I believe these stories are so valuable for little ones!
*I received a free copy of this book from B&H Publishers. I was not required to give a positive review. Thoughts and opinions expressed are mine alone.