Let's Talk About Race
Author: Julius Lester
Illustrator: Karen Barbour
Grade Level: 1-5
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This book is about identifying with who you are. The narrative begins with the author talking about himself and his story. He writes, "I am a story. So are you. So is everyone. My story begins the same way yours does: 'I was born on ____.'" Then he goes on to write about himself- about when and where he was born. The next page prompts the reader with the statement, "How does your story begin?" He goes on to explain the various elements that make up a person. He talks about family, hobbies, religion, nationality, and finally race. The story is about both racial, personal identity, and finding out who you are through your various "elements" as Lester describes.
Element 1- Self Love and Knowledge
This book relates to element one because it is centered around the idea of self-knowledge. The book depicts the narrator as an individual that has a deep respect and understanding of his background. He addresses different aspects of his identity including his race, culture, language, religion, and so on. It is a book about addressing both addressing one's own race and inquiring about the race of others as well as other elements that make up a person.
After reading Let's Talk About Race, students can be prompted to think about their own identifies. Together, as a class, they can talk the different things that make up a person and their identity. During this time, the teacher can make a list on the board of all of the different elements that students identify with, including but not limited to, race, gender, ethnicity, language, and so on. This activity could prompt discussion about the various races and ethnicity of the students in the class. The activity could be followed up by a homework assignment for the children to go home and seek out more information from their parents or caregivers about where they come from and the history behind their race, ethnicity, religion, and etc. This could be a very useful tool in encouraging children to self-identify and also to gain a sense of dignity and respect for their background and differences from each other.