Oh my – summer is finally here! Its only the third full week of summer, but it seems to be whizzing by at record speed. My family kicked it off with out of town visitors, Vacation Bible School, a trip to the beach, and constant SWIMMING!  And again this summer the debate about why we must wear sunscreen (imagine whining here) and how it prevents sunburns but not suntans. Then that discussion was followed by the inevitable – why do some people get really dark tans and others none at all? Why does Uncle (who is African American) not seem to tan ever when he lays in the sun? Why does this one get red? Why does that one tan mocha? My scientific description of melatonin left them blinking, so instead we began to discuss and list all the beautiful colors people could be depending on their heritage.

Then I remembered this book by the fabulous Karen Katz – The Colors of Us – and realized it was time to add that to our summer reading/ponder list!

Colors of Us

Have you read this book? Beautiful words, beautiful illustrations and a celebration of all the tones and colors of people. This book was written for Katz’s daughter Lena whom she and her husband adopted from Guatemala. Go out and grab it from your library or bookstore today – so you are armed not with boring bewildering scientific anecdotes, but rather an easy to understand visual illustration for your little ones! Pair the book with the following activity and you have a recipe for a great family summer learning activity.

This activity is from Karen Katz herself and is paired with The Colors of Us:

1. Give the children multicultural crayons.

2. Have them draw pictures of themselves or give them die cut multicultural heads (Available from shapes 1.800. 888.6580.) Have them decorate them and hang up all the different shades of brown and white. Discuss everyone’s beautiful skin color.

3. Ask the children to name things they think are the color of their skin such as oatmeal or sand.

4. Write the words on construction paper and tape it all around the room. Discuss the beautiful differences in people’s colors.

5. Ask children to bring in items that match their skin color. Make a collage.(Leaves, oatmeal, sand, cumin, etc.). Talk about nature and variations of colors.

6. Have each child choose a head from the 3×3” multicultural die cut packs. (Use the small ones, or precut them yourself ). Decorate with yarn and various materials.

7. Make a large map of the world on brown butcher paper. Draw the equator. Paste each child’s head on the part of the world from where their ancestors originated. Write the child’s name.

8. Have the children notice people born closer to the equator usually have darker skin. Tell them how darker skin is a protection from the sun and people born far from the equator usually have paler skin. Discuss how color is an indication of where you come from and not what you are like as a person.

Happy summer reading!