Looking at Skin Color with Books

Produced by the HRC Foundation

All the Colors of the Earth. Sheila Hamanaka.

Celebrate the colors of children and the colors of love--not black or white or yellow or red, but roaring brown, whispering gold, tinkling pink, and more.

All the Colors We Are/Todos los colores de nuestra piel: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color/La historia de por qué tenemos diferentes colores de piel. Katie Kissinger.

Offers children a simple, scientifically accurate explanation about how our skin color is determined by our ancestors, the sun, and melanin. The colorful photographs capture the beautiful variety of skin tones. Activity ideas are included. 20th Anniversary Edition.

Chocolate Me! Taye Diggs.

Teased for looking different than the other kids—his skin is darker, his hair curlier—he tells his mother he wishes he could be more like everyone else. And she helps him to see how beautiful he really, truly is.

The Colors of Us. Karen Katz.

A positive and affirming look at skin color, from an artist’s perspective. Seven-year-old Lena wants to use brown paint for her skin in a picture of herself. But when she and her mother walk through the neighborhood, Lena learns that brown comes in many different shades.

M is for Melanin. Tiffany Rose.

Each letter of the alphabet contains affirming, Black-positive messages, from A is for Afro and F is for Fresh to P is for Pride and W is for Worthy. Teaches children their ABCs while encouraging them to love the skin they're in. Be bold. Be fearless. BE YOU.

Mommy, Am I Brown? Deandra Abuto.

Eli and his mother are having a normal day in the park, but his curiosity is sparked when they grab his favorite treat. As they experience the day, he soon realizes that he is connected to the world in more ways than he realized.

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children.

Sandra Pinkney and Myles Pinkney. Full color photographs illustrate poetic, vivid text that describes a range of skin and eye colors and hair textures. Conveys a strong sense of pride.

Shades of People. Shelley Rotner.

Cocoa, tan, rose, and almond-people come in lots of shades, even in the same family. This exploration of one of our most noticeable physical traits uses vibrant photographs of children and a short text to inspire young children both to take notice and to look beyond the obvious.

Skin Again. bell hooks.

This award-winning book, with its myriad of faces, introduces a strong message of loving yourself. Celebrating all that makes us unique and different, Skin Again offers new ways to talk about race and identity. Race matters, but only so much—what's most important is who we are on the inside.

The Skin You Live In. Michael Tyler.

Vivid illustrations and a lively story deliver an important message of social acceptance to young readers. Friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity are promoted in simple and straightforward prose. Great descriptions of skin colors.

Sulwe. Lupita Nyong'o.

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. But Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything. Actress Lupita Nyong'o inspires children to see their own unique beauty.


Welcoming Hands Lesson Plan. Students work together to create a visual representation of their community with artistic hands that represent them individually and collectively. [K - 5]

My Many Identities Lesson Plan. Students engage in activities that help them understand the complexity of identity and name aspects of identity that are important to them and then discuss ways to create a classroom where everyone can share their whole selves without fear of bullying or harassment. [4 - 8]

Appreciating Differences and Acknowledging Stereotypes: "Lemons" and "Apples" Lesson Plan. This lesson helps students really look at what makes a person (or a potato) an individual beyond stereotypes. [3 – 6]

The Science of Skin Color. Angela Koine Flynn. TED-Ed video (4:53 min.) When ultraviolet sunlight hits our skin, it affects each of us differently depending on skin color. What’s to account for that difference, and how did our skin come to take on so many different hues to begin with?


Looking at Skin Color with Books

Download Book List

The Human Rights Campaign reports on news, events and resources of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation that are of interest to the general public and further our common mission to support the LGBTQ+ community.