The Skin You Live In
Written by Michael Tyler
Illustrated by David Lee Csicsko
Grade Level: 2
Plan a Lesson with The Skin You Live in
This picture and rhyming book uses figurative language to describe many different skin colors. ("Your coffee and cream skin/your warm cocoa dream skin"). The book also points out that having different skin colors does not pin us against one another, but should be something that brings us together. The metaphors used in the book are light and playful enough for a second grade audience, but Michael Tyler wrote this book for readers of all ages.
Element 1: Self-Love and Knowledge
Self-love and knowledge is at the heart of Tyler's book. Reading this book to a class provides the opportunity to talk about skin tone and ethnicity and can stimulate a conversation about self-esteem and students identifying with their unique skin colors. This text is a particularly careful choice for an elementary classroom because it also includes interracial children who sometimes feel lost when other students identify themselves with one race or another. The rhymes and metaphors also show dismay towards the stereotypes towards different skin tones and hints at the history that has torn people with different skin colors apart for centuries.
In the Classroom
Before reading this book to a class I would preface it by talking about how we all have different and very unique skin colors. I would talk about how we get our skin color from our parents and that when our parents have different skin colors sometimes they mix to give us our own skin tone. I might ask students to feel their skin and look at their skin and then after reading the book out loud we would discuss what delicious foods we can use to describe our skin, just like Michael Tyler does in the book. My goal would be to have kids write down their metaphors for their skin and draw a picture of their face with skin colored markers, crayons, and pencils. This would be a project that I would display around the room and leave up all year to enhance our classroom community and help all of my students identify with their ethnicity, skin color, and build confidence in the skin that they are in. A bulletin board could be created with the title "WE LOVE THE SKIN THAT WE ARE IN."