Bilingual Baby will drop anything for a story. The face that she makes when you tell her you’re going to buy her an ice cream is the same one she makes when you tell her you’re going to read her a story. Luckily, between family, friends, and teachers, she has grown up around story-tellers who have given generously, and somehow, here in Spain, she has landed in a classroom where the teacher is a born story-teller with two published children’s books under her belt.
I knew that her teacher, Coni, was special when she asked us to delay the school celebration of Jojo’s birthday by one day so she could make sure it was pirate-themed (as requested by the birthday girl). At that point Coni had only known us three days, but had made Jojo feel she had been there all school year.
The following week she handed me a beautifully illustrated book called “El Color Negro Mola,” where the protagonist is the color black, and she (or, he?) is looking for a little more love because the color black rules (el color negro mola). The book was a gift; she just wanted her story to make it to Texas and be shared there.
It’s refreshing to have one more book in children’s literature that does something other than reinforce the blonde-haired, blue-eyed protagonist as the ideal. There are definitely no pale princesses in this book, and kids are asked directly to rethink their own ideals in a tangible, easy-to-grasp way. Why do you reach for red and blue when black is the color of so many delicious candies, so many sparkling evening gowns, and the beautiful, star-speared sky at night?
My own Bilingual Baby has told me before that she doesn’t want to use black or brown to color with because they’re not pretty. I haven’t been able to get through to her by pointing out that she can’t draw a realistic tree without brown, or tap shoes without black. But by the end of this book, she couldn’t help but empathize with the color black, and I could see her little brain expanding and coming up with ways to include the color in her drawings.
In fact, the book includes two full pages for coloring, and asks the reader to help the color black out by including her here and there.
On the book’s website you can download activities that help kids access the message of inclusion and diversity in a classroom setting. The blurb on the website describes the book best:
El color negro se revela, está cansado de ser el color del enfado, del miedo, de la oscuridad y de los malos. Está enamorado del arcoíris y su sueño es formar parte de aquellos brillantes colores. ¿Lo conseguirá?
Un cuento para educar en valores, en la tolerancia, en la paz, y en como la diversidad nos enriquece. No importa el color, todos tenemos miedos, amores y sueños.
You can buy the book on Amazon.