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The Colors of Us

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  1,508 ratings  ·  266 reviews
A positive and affirming look at skin color, from an artist's perspective.

Seven-year-old Lena is going to paint a picture of herself. She wants to use brown paint for her skin. But when she and her mother take a walk through the neighborhood, Lena learns that brown comes in many different shades.

Through the eyes of a little girl who begins to see her familiar world in a ne
Paperback, 32 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by Square Fish (first published 1999)
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Average rating 4.34  · 
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 ·  1,508 ratings  ·  266 reviews

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May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to LaDonna by: JN
Another first for me...this was the first time my husband, son and I read a book together. We each took turns reading pages from the book. We then discussed, as a family, the different "shades" that exist among people. As parents, we work hard to raise global citizens. We work to ensure our children look beyond color. And, with that, we also must steal a little of their respective innocence to make sure they understand that for some people color is all they see.

In The Colors of Us Karen Ka
Courtney Weber
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Aysheh M
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
Ugh. Author spends most of the book comparing the skin colors of the people around her to foods to show her adopted child the vast range of ways to talk about the brown people in her life. "Delicious." Not really, Karen.
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all ages
This is a wonderful book and a positive book!! It talks about all the beautiful different skin types people have.
Phyleesha Daigle
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
I gave this book only 2 stars for many reasons. I read and discussed this in class with my group and we found many different little issues with this book. It had a great intention, and is about a mom explaining to her daughter that there are many different types of brown. It's kind of cute that she compares each shade to a food, but other than that the book is very stereotyped and almost racist even though it's trying to do the opposite. I understand that you can't exactly explain race and cultu ...more
Kiara Change
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story is about a girl named Lena. Lena wanted to paint a self-portrait, and she realized that in order to get her skin color, she would have to mix some colors together in order to get the perfect shade. Her mother takes her on an adventure through her community where she sees people of different skin colors and she associates these colors with different foods and objects. Lena realizes that there are many different shades of brown. I like this book because it does a great job of explaining ...more
Nov 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
PB 25: This book is very good for helping children understand the different colors of skin people can have. It is certainly an important lesson that should be taught in every classroom.
A little girl and her mother stroll the neighborhood noticing the many skin color shades of brown and likening the colors to food such as butterscotch, ginger and coffee.
Black Carrie
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book I want my children to love the skin they're in
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Can a book be delicious?
Brianne Tase
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: multicultural
1. Summary: Throughout the neighboehood, young Lena begins to notice the varying colors of each person she sees. Through her specific descriptions, she becomes excited that shes acknowledging these colors. In the end, she loves these newfound colors and uses her new findings to express the beauty in everyones differences.

2. Review: The detailed and creative images alone are enough to capture the reader. The specific descriptions of each shade creates an image all on its own. Finally, the overall
Albert Lee
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it
"The Colors of Us" is a simple yet colorful book about Lena who walks through her community and describes the skin color of all the diverse groups of people with different flavors. The illustrations are very colorful and eye catching so they are interesting for children to look at. It adds to the story by showing how each individual character looks like. Although the book tries to expose children to a diverse group of people I feel as though they went about it the wrong way. Some of the characte ...more
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Very sweet, with great illustrations, this book addresses the different shades of skin colors and the beauty of each. I kind of wish that the comparisons had been something other than food items, since that as been done a lot, but this is still great.
CreateEveryday Classroom
beautiful, descriptive ways of naming all the shades of brown skin
must become a staple on classroom shelves
Jennifer Orosco
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
I love how this story is written through a child's perspective. Lena describes her friend's skin colors in a very positive way. Lena is describing how all her friends are different shades of brown. This can create a great conversation topic for parent/child, teacher/student on celebrating diversity and viewing others in a positive light.
Libby Erwood
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
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
Logan Grant
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-books
The Colors of Us, written by Karen Katz, begins with a young girl, Lena, asking her mother for a plain brown color to paint a self portrait. Her mother explains to her that she will have to use more colors than just plain brown, that her skin is a mixture of colors- that all skin is different. Her mother walks her around the neighborhood giving examples of their neighbors and their variety of skin tones. Her mother points out how her friends are of a variety, and she uses similes to liken each s ...more
Aisha Rokarya
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Colors of Us, is written by Karen Katz and it is a realistic fiction book. This story is about a little girl named Lena who is the color of cinnamon. One day her and her mom were painting themselves. Her mom tells her that if she mixes yellow, red, black, and white she could make her skin color. But Lena does not understand and she questions her mom that "isn't brown just brown?" Her mom goes on to tell her that their are so many shades of brown and that everyone can be a different shade. Th ...more
Marissa Flavin
Summary: Lena, a 7-year old girl, becomes interested in looking at people’s skin color after her mother who is an artist points out that people’s skin color can be many different beautiful shades of brown.

Characteristics That Support the Genre: This sincere story creates bold illustrations that identify and celebrate diversity. The loving mother brings her daughter on a journey around the neighborhood to see for herself the beauty in the variation of people’s skin color. It not only showcases ch
The Colors of Us is a beautiful book that shows a positive and affirmative perspective of the difference in colors of people that light up our world.

Characteristics that Support the Genre:
Lena, the main character in the book, learns that the color brown is not just one shade, that people come in many different colors, and that there is beauty in diversity. Picture books are a great way to teach students about difficult subjects, such as multiculturalism and diversity.

Mentor Writing Tra
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art-craft, diversity
Me: This was a favorite of ours when the boys were little. When one of our sons innocently asked his African-American preschool teacher if her hands were dirty, we sort of freaked at home and picked this up. "The Colors of Us" gave him language to describe all the different skin tones he was becoming exposed to. In the end, all he wanted was a way to describe her skin tone... something this book offered in abundance.

As importantly, this book also reassured us, his parents, that he never meant a
The Colors of Us by Karen Katz is a book level 2.5.

Summary: This story is about a little girl who starts by telling us the color she is by saying she is the color of cinnamon and that her mom is the color of french toast. Her mom explains that brown is not just brown and that people are all various hues of brown. So they go for a walk and the daughter can see all the ways people can be brown.

Genre: 1) multi cultural because just like the title says it is about The Colors of Us and various shad
Keri Denin Milam
Oct 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
The Color of Us by Karen Katz is a childrens book portraying Social/critical issues in society.

This book is about a little girl whose mother is an artist. One day her mother is painting a portrait of herself and mixes colors together to make the perfect color brown for her skin. Lena, the little girl, wants to know what her shade of brown would look like to paint her skin color. Her mother tells her that there are many shades of brown and people with all different skin colors! As they take a wa
Ashley Wilcock
Feb 07, 2017 rated it liked it
1) Summary:
This is the story of a little girl named Lena who is painting a self-portrait. Lena believes that there is only one color brown for her to paint herself with, but her mother argues that there are many shades to create artwork with. Lena’s mother takes her on a walk through their local community and they bump into many of their friends. Lena observes the skin shades of everyone they meet while comparing them to familiar foods and objects. She then realizes that there are many different
Kare Katz's "The Colors of Us" is a simplistic however, vibrant book with lots of personality. Realistic Fiction is the genre of this book. The main character Lena walks her readers through her community as she describes the complexions of the diverse groups of persons. Lena is a seven year old girl who wants to paint a picture of herself. Lena is an African American. She wants to paint her skin brown, but after taking a walk with her mother through their neighborhood she realizes that there are ...more
Kaitlyn Stewart
Summary: The book is about a young girl named Lena who is painting a picture when her mom explains to her that brown is not just simply bro. They take a walk through the neighborhood for Lena to learn that there are different shades of brown. Lena then learns to look at images in a new perspective.

Evaluation: The book is a great representation that not everyone is the same and people come in colors. The illustrations match the text and it allows for personal connections to be made.

Teaching Ide
Oct 29, 2015 rated it liked it
"The Colors of Us," is a children's picture book written by Karen Katz. The story is about a seven year old girl named Lena who is going to paint a picture of herself. She wants to use the color brown for her skin and her mother tells her there are many different shades of brown. Lena and her mom go for a walk through the neighborhood and Lena finds out that there are various types of browns. Katz writes an engaging multicultural picture book with bold illustrations and introduces different eth ...more
Emily Holder
Oct 18, 2016 added it
Shelves: text-set
The book, "The Colors of Us" describe a variety of characters and their skin color. This book is important because none of the skin colors were seen in a bad light. The lighter colors and darker colors and every color in between were all seen as beautiful and compared with something as such. This text relates to my topic because it shows diversity in families, though not a traditional families. Some families are tight knight, only including immediate blood relatives. Other families include godsi ...more
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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

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