Learning About Racial Identity & Fairness

Title of Children’s Book:  All the Colors of the Earth

Author(s) of Children’s Book: Sheila Hamanaka

Brief Summary of the Book:

For Ages 4-8 or Grades Pre K -3

This book outlines skin colours, but with creative descriptions, such as “whispering golds of the late summer grass” ­­. It makes connections between skin colour and hair types to natural things that are relatable to children’s environments and everyday lives. The book also talks about how each colour is loved with the same intensity. The pictures are incredible as well, very colourful and detailed, and they show all colours uniting and playing together.

Title of Children’s Book:  Shin-Chi’s Canoe

Author(s) of Children’s Book:  Nicola I. Campbell (Illustrator: Kim LaFave)

Brief Summary of the Book:

The book is based around the residential school system.  Shin-chi is the main character and he has an older sister named Shi-Shi-etko.  The children were going to be taken away from their family on a cattle truck and taken to the Indian Residential School.  Throughout the story, the author talks about how the children had to be taken away from their parents, to go to the residential school – as it was the law at the time.  Shin-chi’s father had always taken the children on canoe trips and each of the children wanted a canoe for themselves.  The children were determined to learn the skill of canoeing on their own and wanted to each own their very own canoe.  Before being taken away on the cattle truck, the children were sent to have their hair cut, so they went up to the mountain.  When the children arrived back home, the cattle truck was waiting.  With tearful eyes, the father had carved out a small canoe for the kids.  When the two children were sent off on the truck and had arrived, the older sister gave her younger brother the hand carved canoe.  She told him that he needed to keep it safe and hidden.  Shin-chi’s older sister had to gently remind him that he was unable to speak to her until they returned home, it was hard for the children as they would see each other out and about but were not able to talk with one another.  The seasons changed and it was soon winter.  Shin-Chi went down to a nearby river with his carved canoe, taking it out and placing it into the open water or onto the ice.  The canoe was symbolic in the way that it reminded him of his father and home.  When the day finally came for the children to return home, the family was overjoyed.  Greeted by their mother and grandmother, the children were confused and had asked, where is our father?  To which their mother responded with, “Your dad is in the woodshed.” (pg.31).  Both Shin-Chi and his older sister, Shi-Shi-etko went into the shed to find that their father had carved them their very own canoe.

Title of Children’s Book:  “Bein’ with You This Way”

Author(s) of Children’s Book:  W. Nikola-Lisa

Brief Summary of the Book:

“Bein’ with You This Way” is about a little African American girl who goes to a park and rounds up a number of her friends. When looking at all of the different children she begins to see that everyone is different. Some kids have curly hair and some have straight hair, some have blue eyes and some have brown or green. Then they start to notice how people have different skin colours as well. In the book, they see that everyone is different and they see that being different is beautiful and everyone is different but the same. It is about accepting everyone’s differences no matter what they look like, skin colour and all. It is about accepting people no matter what.

Title of Children’s Book:“Tar Beach”

Author(s) of Children’s Book: Faith Ringgold

Brief Summary of the Book:

Tar Beach the story of a young African American girl growing up in the 1930s in Harlem, New York. She lives in an apartment with her parents and her younger brother, Bebe, where they make the best of their low socioeconomic status, having barbeques on the roof of their apartment, which they call “tar beach”. The story explores the issues of racial, social, and industrial segregation in America prior to the civil rights movement, and her father’s challenges finding work, entering unions, and ultimately providing for his family.

Every night, the girl dreams of flying through the New York skyline, which stands as a metaphor for a longing for freedom and opportunity. When she flies through the sky, she imagines that whatever she flies over becomes her property. She imagines a world in which the factory that her father works at, the building he helped to build, and even an ice cream factory, all belong to her family. She imagines a future in which her family has greater opportunity and influence in society.

Though her family experiences discrimination, they gain friends in Mr. and Mrs. Honey, a childless family, who live in the same building. They share food and experiences with the family, participating in the rooftop barbecues. This suggests that although business and industry present barriers in society, opportunity for fairness and change resides in the daily interactions of individual citizens. There is hope for fairness and a better future for everyone.

*Book selection & summary made in conjunction with students from Winter 2017 ECE 325 class.