“Mommy, I’m almond, you’re white chocolate, and Daddy’s dark chocolate.” When a conversation with Carter about why my paler skin would burn without sunblock took this turn, I correctly guessed his kindergarten class had read a book about skin color.
The book turned out to be Shades of People by Shelley Rotner and and Sheila M. Kelly. I got it, and I like it. Talking about race is a necessary but often uncomfortable conversation parents need to have with their kids. I like how Shades of People gives parents an easy way to use common words to talk about skin color—and, by extension, race—at an age-appropriate level.
“Have you noticed that people come in many different shades?” is the opening sentence of Shades of People followed by: “Not colors, exactly, but shades.” The book features color photos of people with different shades of skin, which it likens to wrapping paper.
At the start of the school year when Carter and his classmates drew self portraits topped with yarn hair, I was happy to see that they had various shades of paper to choose from. Carter used a tan that’s, well, pretty close to almond.
When Carter and I read Shades of People together, Carter considered whether Daddy’s skin color might actually be closer to coffee. Almond, chocolate, or coffee. You really can’t go wrong with any of those—or a combination.