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Let's Talk about Race

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  400 ratings  ·  109 reviews
I am a story. So are you. So is everyone.

Julius Lester says, "I write because our lives are stories. If enough of those stories are told, then perhaps we will begin to see that our lives are the same story. The differences are merely in the details." Now Mr. Lester shares his own story as he explores what makes each of us special. Karen Barbour's dramatic, vibrant painting
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 4th 2005 by Amistad Press (first published January 1st 2005)
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4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  400 ratings  ·  109 reviews

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Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Former University of Massachusetts professor Julius Lester presents a beautifully illustrated book about our lives and the stories we tell.


Just as I am a story and you are a story and countries tell stories about themselves, race is a story, too. Whether you're black like me or Asian, Hispanic or white, each race has a story about itself. And that story is almost always the same: "MY RACE IS BETTER THAN YOUR RACE." Some stories are true. Some are not. Those who say "MY RACE IS BETTER THAN YOUR
Mariah Roze
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have been wanting to read this book with my students forever and I am so glad I finally was able to do that. My students loved this book. It opened up a lot of discussions for us and it also was simple so they could follow along. This book taught about how we all look the same under our skin, so we should not be judging another person till we actually get to know them.
Julius Lester tackles a topic not usually seen in children's books. The effort is admirable, and I WANT to enthusiastically recommend it, but it just doesn't settle well with me.

He makes the point that race doesn't completely define someone, and that we are all made up of many different stories, many different parts that all make the whole of 'who someone is'. This part is done well. Although I realized that he doesn't allow any leeway for someone who has parts of their story missing (don't know
OMG I love this book and the message! The kids get it and get to interact while reading it! So glad I found it and will definitely be buying a copy for my class library.
538PM_Bela Patel
Oct 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book introduces race as one part of an individual's story by an award winning author. This a great book to help children understand that everyone is the same inside, the differences are in the details of our own stories. No one is better than anyone else based on their differences. It allows children to explore their own thoughts about race and what makes them unique. It is a thoughtful book with compelling pictures and layered illustrations that encourage reader to linger on each page. Thi ...more
Zoe's Human
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great introduction to a big topic for young readers. The central concept is that everyone has a story. the book is loaded with questions which make it great for interactive reading. Bright eye-catching art.

Picture Book Non-fiction
Grades: PreK - 4
Ages: 4 - 15
Themes: prejudice & racism, emotions & feelings
DDC: 305.800973
Maggi Rohde
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There is something wonderful about Julius Lester's prose. It sounds like a grandpa sitting next to you and talking, just talking -- telling you his wisdom, but never making you feel bad for not already knowing. This is the beginning, for all children, for all people.
Michelle G.
May 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE.
Recommended to Michelle G. by: Found it at the library.
A picture book that isn't preachy but slices straight to the point. Treats racism as a story that isn't true. Which story will we believe? The one that is told to us, or the one that we find out for ourselves?
Lisa Mcbroom
In a wonderfully informal manner, Julius Lester teaches children about race and how we should embrace diversity. Beautifully illustrated as well!!!!
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
So much more than the title indicates, differences and sameness illustrated with images and brief text and powerful words.
Maren Prestegaard
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So fabulous.
Cara Byrne
Dec 01, 2014 rated it liked it
"I am a story. So are you. So is everyone. My story begins the same way yours does: 'I was born on -----.' Take me, for example. I was born on January 27, 1939, in St. Louis, Missouri. (I'm kind of old, huh?)."

In his brief picture book, Lester speaks directly to the child reader, encouraging him or her to tell his or her story, defining all of the attributes of him or herself (like favorite food, religion, heritage, etc.). Lester then asks the child to define and acknowledge his or her race, whi
Mar 07, 2010 rated it it was ok
One of the truly great writers of our time leads this thoughtful and sometimes quirky examination into the issues of what makes us different from each other, and what ultimately makes us very much the same. Julius Lester never follows the beaten trail in his writings; he always challenges and pushes us forward into new experiences, like those in this book. The tone of the words is direct and packed with many good ideas, building upon the idea that all of us are much more than any single aspect ...more
A brilliant picture book that discusses a serious topic in a way that kids can understand. Julius Lester brings himself into the story, letting readers know who he is and how race affects him. My favorite line is "Why would some people say their race is better than another? Because they feel bad about themselves. Because they are afraid. Because."
Shaye Miller
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this picture book. It's likely intended for children, but would be great for convo with middle graders and even teens as they attempt to cross racial lines and break down barriers.

I'll take off my skin. Will you take off yours?

The artwork is lovely -- providing both imagination mixed with realistic conversation. The variety of skin tones shared with personal details is fantastic! Oh my, everyone should get this one on their K-12 shelves. Picture books are great for everyone. This one can
Stephanie Croaning
May 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, picture-books
This book is a great way to begin talking to children about the subject of race and prejudice. It encourages everyone to look beyond the outside of a person to discover who they really are.

Picture book, non-fiction, empathy
Interest Level: K-5; Reading Level: 3.0
5 out of 5 stars

Julius Lester does a great job presenting the idea of race and how sometimes people form opinions about others before getting to know them. The narrator begins with:
I am a story.
So are you. So is everyone.
My story begins
CreateEveryday Classroom
Unfortunately I had low expectations of this book because of the title and cover art.
The conversational story line? BIG FAN. The content of the story line? BIG FAN.
Invest in this book! Read it on repeat.
Dominic Cifuni
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels
The book opens with the recurring line/ message throughout the text, and that is “I am a story”. Lester describes all people as a story, and emphasizes how we all have a different, unique beginning and elements throughout. Karen Barbour uses vibrant colors and images to emphasize that our lives are all stories, but the difference lies in the details. It discusses race as well as superiority and the feelings involved with being put down based on race.
This book can also be seen as a guide to help
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Grade/interest level: Primary/Upper Elementary
Reading level: not found
Genre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Main Characters: narrator/author
Setting: United States
POV: narrator

Author/narrator Julius Lester addresses his readers and explores the concept of racism and how people view and treat each other. He explores how people are commonly human, but also have unique traits and experiences that make them unique. At the end, he invites the readers to take off their skin as they embrace the world an
Emily V
Dec 07, 2016 added it
Shelves: multicultural
This colorful and interactive book brings the reader on journey and asks him/her to think about his/her own story. What is your story? This book will ask readers about the beginning of their story, what their race is, and if one person can be better than another. By the end of this book the reader will understand that were are all made of the same things inside!

I think this book is a great way to link your students together and for them to have a shared experience no matter what. This book intr
David Korsak
The book Let's Talk about Race by Julius Lester is a picture, biography, and fiction book about people disliking people based on race. The author explains that we are all the same under our skin so we really have no reason to judge anyone based on skin color. Julius then talks about how we are so much more than our race and tells us some of the things he likes to do. At the end, Julius asks you if you, too, will take your skin off and not judge others. I selected this book because of this part a ...more
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Notes: Let's Talk About Race offers insight into the differences among people, but the authror explaings how we are all the same inside, we may just look different or believe in something different.. Good book about -isms, when students begin to question people that may not look like them, be like them, etc.

Book Review: Julius Lester does a great job talking about race and how we are all the same, in the book, Let's Talk About Race. Lester makes the reader think about the reason why we think we
Tyrone Hardy
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Let’s Talk about Race is narrative by Julius Lester, and illustrated by Karen Barbour about the authors perspective on race. This book doesn’t have a main character, but rather a collection of characters. If there is a main character, it is the author himself. As I read this book I found myself intrigued by it initially, then I felt that it perhaps was not the best work to use in a classroom full of elementary students. Some of the statements in the text made me feel a little uncomfortable. For ...more
Julius Lester tackles a difficult subject to explain to/understand for a young audience in a very accessible way. He talks about people's differences and their similarities (including race) and shares some ideas about the false stories some people tell themselves about how these qualities make them better than others. We can't know people's stories just by looking at them - we have to wonder about them and ask to find out. Lester points out that he is many things apart from his gender, his skin ...more
Vanessa Mascorro
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Curriculum Connection: I would read this book in the beginning of the year to my students in order for them to understand how unique people are and how unique their personal stories are. I would also encourage them to keep a journal with their stories that way they can reference back to the journal and get ideas for major papers.

§110.10. Implementation of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for English Language Arts and Reading, Elementary, Beginning with School Year 2009-2010.

(13) Writing/Writ
Aliyah Copeland
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this non-fiction book about race. It is really interesting and appropriate to all ages. This book teaches children that we are more than just the color of our skin. The author describes how it would be if we didn’t have skin or hair, and we went on with our everyday lives. He explains how we would not be able to tell the differences of people if we just looked at their bones. I really liked how the author mentioned that everyone has a story and race is just a small part. ...more
Jakhara Norwood
Julius Lester's Let's Talk About Race discusses the importance of race to a person's narrative. The author uses his own and other perspectives to frame the concept of race for children. He introduces the importance of differences, but has the underlying message of acceptance and appreciation of those differences.

I liked the way Julius Lester talked about race within the book because it really put it into perspective for younger children who struggle with this idea.

"I am a story. So are you. So
Apr 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I liked the straightforward style of this writer. I also appreciated that he doesn't try to place blame on any one race as being the most guilty of being mean to other races. The honest truth as this author tells it and as my life experiences have taught me is that all races are guilty at one point or another of acting shamefully because they believe their own racial identity to make them better the others. We need to learn and remember that if we take away the physical identifying markers, we a ...more
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book begins by asking the reader what their story is, what they like or don’t like, and about their family – things that anyone has an answer to. It continues by going into the story about race – that some people believe that one race is better than another. The author then asks the reader to find the bones in their face, and points out that everyone has these same bones, no matter the color of their skin. If everyone were to take off their clothes, skin, and hair we would all look just the ...more
Kristen Lindsay
Oct 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Lets talk about race" Offers the message that everyone is unique in their own way. The story begins with informing that everyone has a different background, but yet all individuals similarly have a story. The book is a simple story line that shares that all individuals are a story.Julius Lester says, "I write because our lives are stories. If enough of these stories are told, then perhaps we will begin to see that our lives are the same story. The book "Lets talk about Race" celebrates all race ...more
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Julius Lester was an American writer of books for children and adults. He was an academic who taught for 32 years (1971–2003) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He was also a photographer, as well as a musician who recorded two albums of folk music and original songs.