Read Together: The Colors of Us

  • The Colors of Us (book)
  • various items mention in the story (piece of caramel, jar of cinnamon, apricot, etc.)
  • color
  • mix
  • shade
  • tone

MA Standards:

Literature/RL.PK.MA.1: With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about a story or a poem read aloud.
Literature/RL.PK.MA.9: With prompting and support, make connections between a story or poem and one’s own experiences.

Head Start Outcomes:

Literacy Knowledge/Book Appreciation and Knowledge: Asks and answers questions and makes comments about print materials.

PreK Learning Guidelines:

English Language Arts/Reading and Literature 6: Listen to a wide variety of age appropriate literature read aloud.
English Language Arts/Reading and Literature 10: Engage actively in read-aloud activities by asking questions, offering ideas, predicting or retelling important parts of a story or informational book.

Read Together: The Colors of Us

© Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Early Education and Care (Jennifer Waddell photographer). All rights reserved.

STEM Key Concepts: There are many different colors; A color can have many different shades (from very light to very dark); Two or more colors can be combined to make a new color; There are many shades of skin color

ELA Focus Skills: Comprehension, Concepts of Print, Parts of a Book, Speaking and Listening, Vocabulary

Educator Prep: Read the book beforehand and, if possible, have samples of the color items named in the book, for example, a piece of caramel, a jar of cinnamon, an apricot, etc. Hold up and describe each item before reading.

Before You Read
Hold up the book The Color of Us by Karen Katz so childen can see the cover illustration. Read the title and ask, What do you think this book is going to be about?

  • Open to the inside cover illustration showing the multiple hands, and help children connect to the text. Have them look at the different skin colors of the hands and ask, 
  • Does this illustration help you know what the title of the book means and what the book will be about? How does it do that?
  • Then have them compare the different skin shades of their own hands. 

As You Read
Read slowly and with expression. As you read about people in the text, hold up the item that is mentioned in the text. Ask, Do you think Lena has cinnamon colored skin?

  • Point out that Lena’s mother is an artist and tells Lena that she can mix colors to find the shade of brown for her skin color. Discuss all the different colors it takes to mix the right shade of color to match Lena's skin. 
  • Read through the text, pausing after each person’s description (and hold up the related sample item if available) to review with children.

After You Read
Talk about the story with children. Ask questions such as,

  • Why does Lena’s mother take her to so many places to see the people in the story?
  • Why does Lena say to her mother “Look Mom, the colors of us?”
  • Lena has many different names to describe the shades of skin color she sees. Which name is your favorite?
  • Discuss what colors children might use to mix their skin tone. Ask children to come up with a name for the color of their skin.

Social Emotional Tip: Emphasize that we are all alike but that each person is special. Encourage each child to tell one thing he or she can do that makes him or her special. Help very young children understand that singing, dancing, or counting to 20 can make someone special.

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