I Color Myself Different
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that I Color Myself Different is the first picture book by athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick, inspired by a moment in his childhood. At 5 years old, he recognized and vocalized the differences between his identity and that of his White adoptive family, choosing confidence and pride to acknowledge his authentic self. He credits this moment for his current path of activism for Black and Brown communities, and he discusses this in the inspiring author's note included at the end of the story. The book touches on topics of self-esteem, diversity, adoption, and Black history. At the end of the book, readers will find information about the Black leaders pictured.
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What's the Story?
In I COLOR MYSELF DIFFERENT, athlete and activist Colin Kaepernick recounts an important moment from his childhood that fortified his pride in his identity. Narrated by young Colin, the story opens up with a look at the type of kid he is: He likes books and sports, games and friends, and he's quite confident about the fact that he is unique. His brown skin and curly hair set him apart from his adoptive White family, but he loves the fact that he is one of a kind. In school one day, the students are tasked with drawing pictures of their family. Colin excitedly colors himself in with a brown crayon -- different from his family -- but is shocked when his classmates ask why he colored himself a different color than the rest of his family. He taps into his reserve of self-love to teach his classmates that what makes him different makes him magnificent.
Is It Any Good?
There's a lot for young readers to take away from this relatable and engaging book. I Color Myself Different is written from young Colin's perspective, with word choice and a voice that kids can identify with. His confidence and positive messaging make it easy to really like Colin's character from the very beginning. The book tackles a lot of issues in a way that kids can understand; yet the realism of Eric Wilkerson's illustrations remind readers that these topics are reality to so many. The "I'm me, and I'm magnificent!" chant will undoubtedly be echoed by many young readers inspired to love what makes them unique.
Some readers may feel that I Color Myself Different takes on too many topics, resulting in a bit of misalignment of the conflict. Colin's classmates ask him why he colored himself a different color than the rest of his family, and the questions make him feel bad -- but he doesn't tell why they make him feel bad. Without that piece, young Colin's reaction feels more like an adult reaction to a racial microaggression than a kindergarten student's reaction to questions by his peers who may not have been exposed to adoptive families yet.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the author's note in I Color Myself Different. Why was Colin Kaepernick's experience of coloring himself with a brown crayon as a kid so important to him? What important lessons did he learn about his identity growing up? What does he want readers to understand after reading his book?
Who's in your family? What makes your family unique?
Look at the pictures of influential Black leaders in the story. Which of the people do you know? What do you know about them? Learn more using the list at the back of the book.
- Author: Colin Kaepernick
- Illustrator: Eric Wilkerson
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Activism, Great Boy Role Models, History
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
- Publication date: April 5, 2022
- Number of pages: 40
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: April 4, 2022
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