…and So You Want to Talk About Race
Children’s Librarian Lee Dabney recommends The Big Umbrella and So You Want to Talk About Race.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am the story-time lady. Every Monday at 10:30 a.m. a group of tiny people and their caregivers join me for stories and an activity.
The past few months, I have been going through the alphabet letter-by-letter as inspiration for our weekly themes. On February 14, the letters were U and V. Underwear, ukulele, unicorn, violin, volcano, and valentine (I know, terrific timing!)
One of the books I picked for U was The Big Umbrella by author/illustrator Amy June Bates with help from her teenage daughter Juniper. Basically, the umbrella is a metaphor for a society where there is room for all to gather under its protective covering. No matter if you are a ballerina, a big bird, or a hairy monster, there is space for you. It is lovely message and the straightforward delivery is simple enough for young children to grasp.
Interestingly, it is another group of young people who have inspired me to read an additional book about inclusion. The Blaine County Amnesty International Club, whose members are primarily teenagers, are currently sponsoring an ongoing book club to discuss Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race.
Every other week, alternating between The Community Library and the Hailey Public Library, readers are invited to a discussion about different themes (chapters) in Oluo’s book. Where The Big Umbrella is soft and sweet in the telling of its story, So You Want to Talk About Race can be uncomfortable and unflinching in its delivery. Bigger kids (and adults) can handle this blunt approach, and it serves as a framework for constructive discussion and a more nuanced understanding of what inclusion, equity, and opportunity (or lack thereof) look like in the real world.
I hope you will pick up a copy of, Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race to read (there are free copies available at both libraries). And please consider going a step further and joining the ongoing discussion of this book. As the parent of a teenager, I can assure you that it is not every day that they extend an invitation that includes “grownups.” There is a reason this group of young people chose this book and are including us. Like Story Time for young children, supporting our older kids and their endeavors is key to their growth; and who knows, they might even teach us a thing or two.