It’s impossible to talk about diversity and children’s poetry picture books without talking about today’s collection of poems.
“Can I Touch Your Hair?” is a frank conversation about race through two children’s’ eyes (one white, one black). This book was written by two writers (one white, one black–both of the characters in the book are named after them) and illustrated by two illustrators (Sean Qualls and his wife, also black and white). This is a fantastic concept and approach to such a topic fraught with fear and misunderstanding.
The book takes a story approach to the topic creating a fictional school setting where the two kids are reluctantly paired up together for a writing project. All throughout the story we see them grow to know each other and develop a friendship, while seeing poems paired side by side on similar topics from two different perspectives. I share a page spread and then each individual poem in close-up so you can see the layout of the book, but also read each poem to see their individual strengths. They each bring something different to the table (no pun intended). This is a book that should be shared and read widely.