I am Brown by Ashok Banker illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat

Standard
I am Brown by Ashok Banker illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat

This 40 page celebration of diversity within the label “brown” is a sweet and powerful book that shows how the color of our skin is beautiful and perfect while at the same time making it clear that who we are and what we can be is not defined by our appearance.  The book shows adorably illustrated brown children finding strength in different cultures, clothing, religions, languages and dreams, which will hopefully empower children everywhere (and of all colors) to take labels that may have negative connotations and turn them in to positive affirmations of identity and strength.  There isn’t a story with a plot, but with the regular inclusion of a girl with a scarf on, and the mention of a mosque, I thought to highlight it.  The book is perfect for preschool and up.  

img_6226

The book starts with a little girl identifying herself as brown, beautiful and being perfect.  It then stretches to her being love, friendship and happiness.

img_6228

From there it branches out to a whole cast of kids identifying the variety of things they can be, from a writer to an electrician to a prime minister. the same kids then do and make and work on things before identifying where they come from and what languages they speak.  

img_6227

The kids all have different hair on their heads and faces and even no hair at all. They live in different dwellings, they like to do different things. 

img_6229

Brown people are not a monolith, the kids show that they eat different foods in different ways, that they wear different clothes.

img_6230

People with brown skin are roommates and teachers and friends and classmates.  Some go to temple or church, others a mosque or shrine, some not at all. 

img_6231

The book ends with a close up of three smiling faces proclaiming, “I am brown.  I am amazing.  I am You.”

img_6232

I’m sure people will argue that if you switch out white for brown the book would be deemed racist, and you are correct it would be.  But as a group that is marginalized as “other” and often the darker brown you are with in the brown subset moves you “value” and “worth” down, makes a book celebrating the strength and beauty of “brown” so necessary and heart warming.  I personally am the lightest “brown” imaginable being only half Pakistani.  So, believe me I have privilege in the desi community, but I don’t find this book offensive at all.  I’ve read this book at least a dozen times and my impressions alternate between beaming with pride and tears that so many beautiful people feel less than because of skin color and yes, anger too,  that people are MADE to feel less than.   May we all be more inclusive, more loving, and more open to the diversity of the human being. Ameen.

4 responses »

  1. I am writing an article about the importance of knowing whats in a YAbook before giving it to your teen. I will be recommending that people use your blog. I would like to use your name if it’s ok with you. (I would also like your name as I think of you as a friend who values children’s lit as much as I do)

      • Now your reviews are listed chronologically according to when you wrote them. How difficult would it be to group them according to age appropriateness ? That would be a big help for busy mothers.

      • You can always search by age or grade, or theme. Really any way you organized it there will be confusion, would the age be based on content or material? Would you have separate categories for picture books and chapter books? I imagined if I ever moved to a website format i’d probably find some way to organize it like book stores do with titles appearing in more than one place, but with 5 kids and this just being a passion of mine that started so organically as a way to direct people wanting title suggestions, I don’t know when if find the time to overhaul it🤷🏽‍♀️ alhumdulillah💜

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s