Shades of People by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly

Do you like the term people of color? Some people have definite opinions about terms that seek to describe a person’s skin color. In Amy Tan’s The Opposite of Fate, she said the phrase people of color is exclusionary. She also said she wasn’t fond of the color yellow being used to refer to Chinese people. When I think of my own skin tone, I think brown, chocolate, coco, and brown sugar.

Thinking about what I read in Tan’s book made me pick up Shades of People by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly (Holiday House, 2009) at Indian River Library. The photographs of the cute faces on the cover were expressive. When I opened the book, I saw that in the span of about 100 words the authors wanted readers to notice at least five things:

• The term shade might be a better descriptor than color (ivory, peach, almond, bronze, and so on) when you’re referring to people;

• Some people have “very dark” skin while others are “pale, fair, or light”;

• Skin color does not tell us anything about a person’s personality;

• Sometimes family members are different shades; and

• We will see many shades of people wherever we go.

This is the type of book I would have read to Z (and still might when he returns home).