Below is an annotated list of children's literature for the elementary classroom. The books are organized by the Six Elements of Social Justice Curriculum Design (Picower, 2007). It is based on work by pre-service teachers at Montclair State University. They have read and reviewed these books and provided insights into how they can be used in K-5 settings.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Black is Brown is Tan

Title: Black is Brown is Tan
Author: Arnold Adoff
Pictures by: Emily Arnold McCully

The childrens book, "Black is Brown is Tan" written by Arnold Adoff and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully is a story about a family that has 'all the colors of the race". The mother is African American and the father is Caucasian making the two children- boy and girl, mixed. The story is written in a first person perspective from one of the children or both viewpoint. They describe life in their family and how they are extremely proud of their unique tan color and their unique family. They describe a day in their life: going to school, doing chores, spending time with their grandparents, having BBQ dinners, doing chores, and not trying to go to bed. They describe themselves in great detail within a song/poem version as they state that they are brown like chocolate milk and pumpkin pie and white, not like milk & snow but light with pinks and tiny tans. This is a perfect book for an elementary level from 1st grade to 4th grade.

This newer edition of the book was published in 2002 but the older edition was published back in 1973. This was the first book that featured an interracial family. Shortly before this time, marriage that was interracial was a violation in twenty-eight states in America, a huge part of the country. This book is a true dedication to diversity and the melting pot of America. Teachers can use this book as a tool to teach students about self-respect and self-uniqueness. The children in this book have dignity and respect for their colors and the story didn't contain a negative stereotype of any kind. The children are proud of who they are and what their skin color represents, which is strength, uniqueness, and hope.

I would use this book in an "All About Me" unit where the children can use different skin color tones of paint to draw themselves and paint their particular color. It will allow the students to really find out what color they are and veer away from the stereotypes of children being just "black or white".

Follow this link to purchase this book: (copy & paste to browser if link is disabled)

Lesson Plan for All About Me (use this to resource & story book) to engage kids in All ABout Me Activity):

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