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The Colors of Us

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  505 ratings  ·  123 reviews
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Seven-year-old Lena wants to use brown paint to paint a picture of herself. She and her mother take a walk, and Lena learns that brown comes in many different shades.

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Paperback, 32 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Henry Holt and Co. BYR Paperbacks (first published 1999)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,071)
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Aysheh M
Many people no matter the race see one color as its only shade or variation. Within those opaque colors underlies lighter tones or as the author likes to refer as "flavors". I liked the fact that the author referred in flavors of food but not in actual colors. This book forms a unity between many races and ethnicities.
Courtney Weber
Personal Reaction: This is hands down my favorite children's book i've ever read. It talks about the colors of people's skin in such a positive way and shares how we are all beautiful because we are different. I will use this book in my classroom one day.

Read Aloud: This would be an amazing read aloud. It talks about diversity in the most positive way and helps kids realize that people are different but in good, sweet ways. Everyone's skin tone is compared to something like chocolate or cinnamon
Natalie Brockmeier
I really liked reading this book. I loved the big bold pictures in it and I like how the text was displayed on the page, as it was visually appealing. Additionally, when reading I saw tons of valid reasons to read this in a younger elementary classroom.
I would read this book, preferably towards the beginning of the year, and a unit of diversity and acceptance of others. Especially as diverse as classrooms are these days, this book would make it possible for every child in the class to at least
Libby Erwood
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz follows a little girl on a journey as her mom shows her people of all different colors and backgrounds, comparing their skin to colors the little girl, Lena, can recognize and relate to. I really enjoyed this book because of the way it showed diversity and differences among individuals. Not only in a relatable and engaging way for children, but also in a way that is celebrating individuals differences rather than just pointing them out. The illustrations show all d ...more
Molly Alexander
When Lena wants to paint a picture of herself, she realizes that the color brown has many different shades to it, and that she isn't just brown. The main character Lena is seven and is starting to take in interest in the color that she sees herself as, and the colors of all the many people that surround her on a daily basis. They are all brown, many different, beautiful shades of brown and tan. I love the way the pictures are all related to different things that a child probably has seen or know ...more
It's a good premise for a book though there is not too much a story line - mostly just the little girl and her mother walking around their neighbourhood noticing the different colours of the different people. The author tended to play on stereotypes and her use of food comparisons started making me hungry even though I had just eaten before reading the story :). The mess that all colours of people are beautiful is a good one. I also enjoyed that the protagonist and many of the characters were fe ...more
I actually just read this book with my very diverse group of Pre-K'ers last week and they loved it! They were able to easily relate and I could tell even at such a young age it made them recognize and truly take pride in their color diversity, which was a beautiful thing to see. I like how every skin color was celebrated and described. The main character was a girl and she mentioned and celebrated the unique appearance of her female friends which is why I included it in my text set. There was a ...more
Cara Byrne
This sweet, brief picture book follows seven-year-old Lena as she walks around her neighborhood with her mom and learns to paint and appreciate the distinct hues of her girlfriends and the adults who live around her. The book begins, "My name is Lena, and I am seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up." and ends "I am happy as I get out my paints: yellow, red, black, and white. I think about all the wonderful colors I will make, and I say their names out loud. Cinnamon, cho ...more
(NS) - Heather Hayman
The Colors of Us, By Karen Katz, is about a young girl named Lena and her mother who observe variations in the colors of their friends' skin. As Lena looks at the different shades of brown, she starts to compare everyone in terms of delicious food. Suddently their skin turns into chocolate, ginger, honey, peanut butter, pizza crust and more as they stroll though their neighborhood. Colorful illustrations add to the beautiful comparisons in this story aimed towards primary children.

I think that
Mara Mccarthy
In The Colors of Us, a little girl named Lena wants to paint a self-portrait. When her mom, who is an artist, tries to help her by showing her how to mix colors to create the perfect shade for her skin, Lena argues that brown is brown and she does not need to mix colors. Her mother decides to take Lena on a walk through their town, and makes sure to point out all of the different skin tones they see. They think of a delicious food that resembles the color of each skin tone, which presents each s ...more
Abbery Milhouse-cunningham
This children's book depicts the story of a seven year old girl (Lena), who explores the diversity of skin tone through art. Throughout the narrative, Lena encountered, described, and painted various hues of skin. Language like "creamy peanut-butter, color of honey, and reddish brown" are used to describe the skin tones of Lena's family, friends, and community members. Lena concluded that "The Color of Us" is beautiful, acceptable, unique, and exciting. As a teacher, I would use this book to inf ...more
Keri Denin Milam
This narrative tells about a seven year old girl, Lena, who wants to paint a picture of herself and use brown paint for her skin. Lena's mom, who is an artist, is teaching Lena to mix colors. Lena argues, as a child would, that "Mom, Brown is Brown!" Lena's mom takes her daughter on a walk through their neighborhood, and shows Lena that brown comes in many different shades. Karen Katz uses wonderful descriptive language to describe different skin tones with colors of food ("I am the color of Cin ...more
Renea Freeman
I truly enjoyed reading this book by Karen Katz. The book opens up with a little girl named Lena and her mommy talking about which color paints will make the right brown for her skin. Lena thinks that brown is brown, however since her mom is an artist she knows that there are many shades and hues of brown. Lena and her mom set off to take a more closely look at the many shades of brown. During their journey Lena discovers that several of her family members, neighbors and friends are all differen ...more
Johna Brown
This story is a book about the variations of colors. It started with a little girl by the name of Lena, painting a picture of her. Lena mom is an artist and showed her how to mix colors. Lena and her mom took a walk through the neighborhood. Lena was able to see the different skin tones on people. I think this would be a good book to read on the first day of school with kindergarten students. This would help them to see that their skin complexion is unique. As a teacher, I would read this story ...more
A young girl’s mother is a painter and knows colors very well. When she asks her mother how to make her color (her skin color), her mother explains that the right white, yellow, red, and black will make the right brown for her color. The young girl is confused because how can there be more than one color brown—“brown is brown”. Throughout the book, the girl and her mother go around the town seeing good friends and locals along the way. The young girl describes the colors of their skin with sweet ...more
Chanae Wills
The Colors of Us is a narrative about a seven year old girl named Lena. She wants to paint a picture of herself and her mother, who is an artist, tells her what colors to mix together in order for her to get the right brown. Lena thinks that “brown is brown”, so she and her mother talk a walk to see all the different colors that everyone is around the neighborhood (ex. “Isabella is chocolate brown, like the cupcakes we had for her birthday.”). As a literacy teacher, I would use this book to teac ...more
- This book is about a girl named Lena who wanted to paint a picture of herself but eventually discovers while walking with her mother that there are many shades of brown. This book talks about unity, race, and culture and teaches children about the importance of acceptance. I really like the illustrations of this book. I think that this is especially great to read to children as it can really teach them that there are different tones to people and not just one color. ...more
Demi Sienna
This story is very nice for children to read. It about a little girl, the author's adopted daughter actually. She is trying to make a portrait of herself but in the process, she learns about different skin tones. She also learns that we may be different, per skin color, but we're all the same which makes the world beautiful. I like the positive message. The story is age-appropriate and multicultural. It is also very family-oriented. The illustrations are colorful for children to enjoy.
A book about accepting the skin color that you are given. The daughter was going to draw a picture of herself just using plain brown, but her artist mother takes her on a walk through the neighborhood to show her all of the different colors of skin. They compare skin to foods—“Rosita’s skin looks like butterscotch,” Mr. Kashmir is “the color of ginger and chili powder,” and “Aunt Kathy is tawny tan like coconuts and coffee toffee.” The girl paints everyone in the neighborhood and declares “The c ...more
McKinzie Elton
This picture book tells the story of an 8 year old named Lena who is about to draw her self portrait. She tells her mother that she will paint her skin brown, but when her mother asks what type of brown, Lena is confused. To her, brown is brown. Together, they walk around the neighborhood and discover the different shades of brown that make each person unique and special. This book could be used in Kindergarten social studies to explore the differences and similarities among people groups.
Lena is a seven year old girl and is going to paint a self-portrait which she wants to use brown to paint her skin. Her mom is an artist and explains to her that the right brown for her can be made by a combination of other colors. Lena is confused and says " Mom, brown is brown." Her mom takes her on a walk around their neighborhood and describes the different types of brown, which she relates them to flavors. For an example her mom says "Sonia is light yellow brown, like peanut butter." She re ...more
I choose this book because it is a great way to talk about how people are all different shades of color. This book would be great for the kids that may struggle with their skin color because of their mixed parents or their DNA. This book really brings into perspective that there is many shades of colors and they are beautiful.
Shamilah Gillani
This is a great book to teach equality, acceptance, and love amongst classmates. This book is about a 7 year old girl named Lena who wants to paint a picture, but when she goes to paint it, she realizes there are many colors of brown. Her mother, who is a painter, explains to her that there were many shades. She goes around and looks at her friend's skin colors and compares them to brown shades from foods. She compared them to peanut butter, chocolate cupcakes, etc.
in my classroom, I would use
Savannah Harpster
This is a very cute story of a little girl named Lena who learns that there are many different shades of brown. When her mother, the artist shows her how to mix the colors: red, yellow, black, and white paints to make a picture of herself. But it has to be the right color combination of those paints. So, her mother takes her out and shows her how everyone she knows is a different shade of brown, all a beautiful color. This is a great story to make any child love the color of their skin, knowing ...more
Karen Katz's The Colors of Us should be subtitled A Baked Dozen or So Delectable and Different Shades of Brown. You are a beautiful color among the colors of cinnamon, French toast, creamy peanut butter, chocolate brown cupcake, peach, honey, fall leaves, cocoa, butterscotch, pizza crust, bronze and amber.
Ms Threlkeld
I love the idea of really looking at people's skin color and realizing there are a vast number of shades and they are all beautiful. This book could lead to some interesting discussions with elementary schoolers and I could see connecting it to an art project on portraits.
Emily Conradi
This is the story about how a 7-year-old girl comes to notice the differences in skin color. Everyone is different but equally as special.

This would be an excellent book to read to 1st graders. It will help them develop their understanding of their physical features and those of people around them, commonalities and differences. The book acts as a very brief introduction to diversity.
we are all different. we look different, we sound different, we come in different shapes, sizes, and colors. we have different families and different neighborhoods. what do you think of when you look at your mom? does she look tan or milky or smooth like chocolate? what about your best friends? your bus driver? your mail person? the people at the grocery store? this book helps children appreciate the many shades and hues we see when we look at the people all around us.

a lesson for a small group
Kaylie Henley
This is a great multicultural book for kids to really introduce them to the different people of this vast world. I really liked this book because it showed everyone being friends and accepting them for who they are and celebrating their differences.
Maria Bulfamante
I actually really liked this book. It is a great way for children to understand that everyone is different, but special in there own ways. I liked how each skin color was described and appreciated. This is a great book to read to young children.
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Karen Katz has written and illustrated many books for children, including The Colors of Us, Can You Say Peace, My First Ramadan, Counting Kisses and Where is Baby's Belly Button. Long inspired by folk art from around the world, she was inspired to write her first book, Over the Moon, when she and her husband adopted their daughter from Guatemala, and she wanted to tell the story of welcoming Lena ...more
More about Karen Katz...
Where Is Baby's Belly Button? Counting Kisses: A Kiss & Read Book Daddy Hugs A Potty for Me! Where Is Baby's Mommy?: A Karen Katz Lift-the-Flap Book

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