The Children's Book Garden

Reading and weeding through the best and worst of children's literature

Books About Biracial Children November 13, 2009

Filed under: Diversity,Family Structures,Preschool books,Uncategorized — snowbrice @ 3:26 am

There are only a few books about biracial children available.  A fact that I find quite distressing since I am the mother of biracial daughters.

The three books I like most are:

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster and illustrated by Chris Raschka is about a little girl’s visit to her grandparents’ house.  They have a window at the front of the house that is very special and magical.  It is the window to the kitchen where all the fun takes place. My children love it because it reminds them of going to visit their grandmother.



The Aunt in Our House by Angela Johnson and illustrated by David Soman is another book that features a biracial family where the mother is black and the father is white.  Again, the story is not about the racial makeup of the family.  It is a very mysterious story because you are not sure why the aunt has come to stay.  This book is good to get children talking about their own experiences.  Children may say that the aunt is sick, that she has lost her home, or that she has recently divorce.  I found this to be a good book to read tochildren in pre-kindergarten through 1st grade.



Black is Brown is Tan by Arnold Adoff, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, is one long poem describing each member of the family.  It is told in a way that sounds like children describing the differences between each other.

It is beautifully illustrated and has a sleepy tone to it that makes it a perfect bedtime book.





The one book about being biracial that I DESPISE is You Be Me, I’ll Be You by Phil Mandelbaum.  The book features a child with a white father and black mother.  While Mom is at work, Dad and daughter are hanging out at home.  The daughter asks her dad why he and mommy look different.  So, in some twisted way of showing the daughter that skin color is superficial, the dad suggests that they “trade” colors.  To do this, the dad smears coffee grounds on his face, and has the daughter put his hair in tiny braids all over his head and then puts flour on the daughter’s face.  They then decide to go out to meet the mom as she is walking home from work.

This book horrifies me on many levels.  Mostly,  I cannot believe that a book which features a man in “black face” would be considered appropriate for children.  The book was originally published in Europe, and as one reviewer said, “should have never made it across the Atlantic” (Loch-Wouters, Menasha Public Library, WI).



So, what books about racial diversity do you like/hate?


3 Responses to “Books About Biracial Children”

  1. marybethadcock Says:

    Oh my goodness on the coffee-face book! Thanks so much for the other recommendations.

  2. Emily Says:

    A great book about race (though not specifically about being biracial) is The Colors of Us by Karen Katz. Doesn’t really get philosophical, just shows all different skins…

  3. Lauren Says:

    Not every white person who, with “makeup” makes themselves black is trying to do “black face”. Kudos rather than criticism should be given for those even trying to tackle the issue of race in a way the newer generations can understand. Maybe then we’ll see more books about diversity.

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