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Children's Books - “Let’s Talk About Race” by Julius Lester

We want to thank last year’s PJA Giving Circle for providing a grant to the PJA Early Childhood program to build a collection of young children’s books that highlight BIPOC authors, illustrators, characters, stories and settings. (BIPOC refers to Black, Indigenous, and people of color). One of the favorite books in this new collection is Let’s Talk About Race, by Julius Lester and illustrated by Karen Barbour. Lester, who is Black and Jewish, writes that each person is a story. He tells us his story and asks us to think about our own.

Leslie and Debbie's Younger 3's class recently read Let’s Talk About Race for their read-aloud time. In this book, Lester talks about race in a way that young children can understand and the children love the remarkable illustrations by Barbour. There is also an interactive component to the story. Lester invites the readers and listeners to gently feel the bone beneath our eyes and then expand to feel other big bones in our bodies. He explains that if we took off our skin and hair and went about our daily tasks, we would all be walking around as our boney selves. We would not know who is black, who is white, who is a girl and who is a boy.

One of the questions raised by a child during the reading of the book was “how do we take off our skin?” The author poses other questions: If you say you are better than someone else because you are a boy or you are a girl, is that a true story? If you say you are better than someone else because you are black or you are white, is that a true story? We heard a resounding chorus from the children. “No, that is not true!”

Special thanks to guest writer Leslie Berman.
  • Early Childhood