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On Julie Hakim Azzam’s “Mommy, Do I Have White Skin?: Skin Color, Family, and Picture Books” (from November 2016)

brown_palacios_marisolmcdonald_match“Using picture books, I set out to cultivate an image library that would give my children pictures of families that, like ours, were of mixed ancestry and had skin tones that ranged from light to dark.”

Julie Hakim Azzam’s Books in the Home column from the November/December 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine discusses her search for books that helped her talk about skin color and heritage within her own Arab American family. In addition to looking for books that mirrored her children’s experience, Julie sought out books featuring mixed-race families and titles focusing specifically on skin color.

Julie’s insights into the importance of the language authors use to describe skin tones provide a clear guide to choosing books that help the conversation: “I found these books’ use of food and animal metaphors problematic, as comparisons such as these can fetishize dark skin and are often used only in reference to darker skin colors.” For parents and children who don’t look like one another (including “adoptive, interracial, and intercultural families”), having language to talk about their experience can only strengthen pride in their identity.


About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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