Can I Touch Your Hair by Irene Latham and Charles Waters. Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko. Publishing date: January 1, 2018 by Carolrhoda Books.
Available for preorder
Ages 8 and up
(I received an ARC of this book for a fair review. I was not paid for the review. However, I am an Amazon Affliliate and if you click on the link and make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)
Conversations about race at any age is difficult. It is a topic often avoided with kids because of the worry they aren’t old enough to handle the intricate topic. “Can I Touch Your Hair” provides a starting point for deeper conversations in our schools, our families and with our friends. The authors handle cultural differences and new friendships with sensitivity.
The writing and illustrating teams gave each character and picture its own distinct voice and style through free style poetry. This is the first picture book I have read using this technique, and I enjoyed its fresh approach to the picture book genre.
The book stayed away from stereotypes of each culture, and highlighted the fact they exist. Its universal theme of fitting in makes the book a relatable for everyone. Each of the characters struggles to find his or her place in the community they live in and find friendship in the last place they expected to.
Although the concepts are sophisticated, parents and teachers shouldn’t shy away from the book. Use the book as a discussion starter about race and our similarities and cultural differences.
“Can I Touch Your Hair” shows no matter our perceptions we are all a part of the same community.
Try It At Home
Reading aloud should never stop. This book is a perfect read aloud book for older kids. Research shows that fluency improves when kids hear books being read aloud even if the child reads independently. The back and forth nature of Can I Touch Your Hair, makes it perfect for a read aloud. Your child can practice reading with emotion and pauses and learn from you as you read the same way.
Poetry aids self-expression and builds creative writing skills. Poetry isn’t only a great way to express emotions, it is a great way to build reading and writing skills. Free style poetry is a great way to introduce creative writing to kids because it doesn’t have the rules of other types. We often think of poetry as having to rhyme and this book is a perfect example of creativity at work. Write poems with your child about what is important in his or her life. Emotions she might have a hard time expressing or places where he feels insecure. Don’t stop there! Haiku’s are a great way to connect with nature and writing and are fun to produce. Poetry doesn’t have to be intimidating as the authors demonstrate.
Rekindle the art of letter writing. Feeling different or out of place happens to all of us and as kids age they have a harder time telling us what they are feeling and what is happening in his or her life. A friend of mine when my kids were young suggested sharing a diary that the child can write in and the parent can respond to. It gives kids a chance to let out the emotions they have a hard time discussing and gives us as parents time to think through our response. Added benefits are increasing narrative skills through the letter writing or diary format and handwriting practice.
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Tune in tomorrow when Building Future Readers interviews the authors Charles Waters and Irene Latham about the book!
What books do you read to begin a conversation about race and cultural differences and similarities?