“Can we read this book first?…
She looks just like me!”
This request from a first grader lead to one of the most meaningful conversations I’ve ever had with a student.
While the beautiful, biracial girl on the cover caught her attention, the excitement only grew when she saw the family on the back cover.
“That’s just like my family, only my mom is white and my dad is black. Well… he’s not really black. He’s really brown but people say he is black.”
She was completely captivated by Honeysmoke, so animated and expressive as she told her story. Her smile, the twinkle in her eye, and the utter joy in her voice were simply magnificent!
Without hesitation she explained that Simone feels like she doesn’t fit in because she doesn’t look like either of her parents. She continued to explain that “lots of us are light brown” (referring to her classmates) but she sometimes feels like she doesn’t fit in at school because her hair is different. “Just look at it!” she exclaimed while grabbing a tuft of hair.
We hadn’t even finished reading the book when she clutched it to her chest and asked if she could have it. When asked if she wanted to borrow it or if she needed her own copy she was quite convincing:
“I would read it every day and my mom and dad will love it, too!“
I had planned to write this post about how I selected this book because I wish it had been available to my niece when she was younger. I also planned to share the struggles our students faced finding the right mix of colors and the best word to describe their own color but all of that paled in comparison to this 10 minute exchange.
It seems to me that Monique Fields wrote this book not only for her own daughters but also for this amazing, first-grade student (and many others just like her) thrilled to see herself in this beautifully illustrated book.
Thank you, Rokia, for teaching me so much more than I taught you today! I would have never imagined the inspiring conversation we had today.
I hope everyone finds their color!