Our Skin: A First Conversation about race

Our Skin Summary

Young learners will have questions about race. Be ready to answer by grabbing a copy of Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race. This incredible resource, written by experts, will educate readers of all ages.

The board book opens with a note to adult readers. The authors, Megan Madison and Jessica Ralli, explain the importance of answering questions about race. Ignoring these conversations will leave children to believe ideas and opinions that are wrong.

Our Skin opens with a diverse group of children looking at the reader. They seem to be listening to the narrator who says, “We all have skin. It comes in different colors!” A follow-up question asks, “What color is your skin?” The text structure continues with a statement followed by a question.

The narrator does a wonderful job explaining terms to young children. Readers will learn about melatonin and discover how the idea of race began.

Readers will explore the injustice of racism. They may even connect with the different racist scenarios presented in the book. The narrator explains that racism can happen on purpose or by mistake.

A call to action encourages readers to be brave. Children can say, “That’s not right!” when they see or hear something that is wrong. The narrator lists other ways learners can stop racism.

Notes at the back of the book help adult readers continue conversations about race. Here you’ll find information about diversity, stereotypes and activism.

I love the illustrations by Isabel Roxas. The images are large and clear, making this board book accessible for class read alouds.

This image shows two pages of the book Our Skin: A First Conversation About Race. The page on the left shows a girl of color playing football and a Black boy looking through a magnifying glass at a snail. The other page shows a white boy eating noodle soup and a boy of color eating  a croissant. The text says, "Skin color can't tell you much about what people are like, what they know, what foods they think are yummy, what their favorite books are, or even where they were born. Just by looking at someone, we can't tell who they are on the inside. But sometimes people try to anyway.

Our Skin Discussion

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Inquire/Think I.A.2 Learners display curiosity and initiative by recalling prior and background knowledge as context for new meaning.

Before Reading
  • Ask learners what they think they know about race.
  • Record questions they have about race on chart paper.
During Reading
  • Invite learners to answer the questions in the story. Explore skin color and identity.
After Reading

Ask learners to reflect on how their thinking changed. What did they learn by reading the book?

Record remaining questions for future conversations about race.

More Resources for Educators

Preorder a copy of Let’s Talk about Race in Storytimes by Jessica Anne Bratt. She is the Director of Community Engagement and Outreach at the Grand Rapids Public Library and facilitates workshops about race.

The book Start Here Start Now: A Guide to Antibias and Antiracist Work in Your School Community by Liz Kleinrock is available now. Not to brag, but I have the book and enrolled in her 3 part webinar. Kleinrock is I learned about building a strong community where learners feel confident about themselves and appreciate learning from others. Watch Kleinrock take on a teachable moment about race in her fourth grade classroom.

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If you like these lesson ideas, please take a look at our book, Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades. This resource includes ready-to-go lesson plans that meet the standards. Worksheets, assessments and rubrics are included.

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