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Black Is a Rainbow Color

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A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this moving and powerful anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on.

Red is a rainbow color.
Green sits next to blue.
Yellow, orange, violet, indigo,
They are rainbow colors, too, but

My color is black . . .
And there’s no BLACK in rainbows.

From the wheels of a bicycle to the robe on Thurgood Marshall's back, Black surrounds our lives. It is a color to simply describe some of our favorite things, but it also evokes a deeper sentiment about the incredible people who helped change the world and a community that continues to grow and thrive.

Stunningly illustrated by Caldecott Honoree and Coretta Scott King Award winner Ekua Holmes, Black Is a Rainbow Color is a sweeping celebration told through debut author Angela Joy’s rhythmically captivating and unforgettable words.

40 pages, Hardcover

First published January 14, 2020

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About the author

Angela Joy

6 books19 followers
Angela Joy was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. Before graduating Summa Cum Laude from the University of Minnesota, Angela attended New York University and Spelman College. With a move to Los Angeles, CA, Angela traveled extensively as a background vocalist, also working in television and movie soundtracks.

Currently, Angela is an author, substitute teacher, Girl Scout Cookie Manager, Troop Leader, 5th grade book club moderator, and music lover. She is the co-founder of the McGaugh International Culture Club. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two children, but will always call Minneapolis home. Black Is a Rainbow Color is her first book.

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5 stars
918 (63%)
4 stars
405 (27%)
3 stars
101 (6%)
2 stars
19 (1%)
1 star
7 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 333 reviews
Profile Image for Christina Carter.
242 reviews32 followers
February 8, 2020
For about four summers in a row, our family hosted a little boy through The Fresh Air Fund who would travel from NYC to spend some time with us in Buffalo. We built some of our most lasting memories during that time. Visiting museums, hanging out at the town pool, going to the library and amusement parks. He and my daughter were the best of friends. I enjoyed getting to know his family and I was thrilled when they were able to come out to spend Thanksgiving with us one year. I just knew that his family felt like my family. But when I think back to that first night he spent at our house years ago, I remember him being uncertain about using the word black around us. Whether it be in reference to our family specifically or simply when using the term to describe the color of an object.

When I first started working in my school district, I sensed this same hesitancy around the word black in some of my students and I think it was because they were not sure if using that word would be offensive to me. This is why a book like Black is a Rainbow Color is important. It's for those who will read this book and see the beauty of their blackness, represented in all shades, the brilliance of a culture as it sings out through the pages. It's for the children who are curious. For those students who comment on my brown skin in contrast to theirs and as Angela Joy says it, "For children who ask difficult questions, and adults who brave the unknown for answers."

I am grateful for this book because "Black is history. Black is family. Black is memory. Black is community. Black is the love that lives inside of me." Angela declares this and much more with text that speaks joy, determination, and pride, making references throughout to artists, activists, and change-makers in history as brought to life through Ekua Holmes's illustrations. At the book's end, readers will find an Author's Note explaining Angela's inspiration, a Black is a Rainbow Color Playlist, details about some of the people and events that were mentioned, sample work, and a timeline. I look forward to sharing this book with my students.
Profile Image for Lorie Barber.
557 reviews36 followers
October 20, 2019
Looks like I’ll have to start my Caldecott 2021 list already!!
This book is stunning in both lyrical text and illustrations. The back matter is second to none, including poems by Langston Hughes & Paul Lawrence Dunbar, explanations to references throughout the text, and a timeline of “what to call” Black people throughout American history, starting in 1619.
This book is a celebration, a tool for informed understanding, and a confirmation of history. I cannot wait to share it with my students.
So so grateful to Roaring Books Press & Macmillan Children’s for the advanced copy.
Profile Image for Cheryl .
9,025 reviews390 followers
October 20, 2022
I was thinking 3.5 stars until I got to the author's note and the other amazing back matter. Such rich and important material, covering so much history and culture, etc., all made accessible even to youngsters and busy families... and enlightening to this well-read older white woman.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, to be honest.
Profile Image for Mary Lee.
2,925 reviews56 followers
January 18, 2020
This is a beautiful book. (Love the art of Ekua Holmes!) It also has amazing back matter: an informative author's note, a playlist of songs, an explanation of all the allusions (including 3 poems that are referenced, and "A Timeline of Black Ethnonyms in America." Ethnonyms. A new term to me, but powerful information about names a people have been called and have called themselves.
Profile Image for Marti (Letstalkaboutbooksbaybee).
1,303 reviews122 followers
November 22, 2019
Thank you Macmillan Kids for a gifted advanced copy!

My friend, Amber, got this book and shared about it with me and I knew I immediately had to get my hands on my own copy.

Let me start by saying the illustrations in this book are absolutely gorgeous. But the book itself is so, so beautiful as well. One of my favorite parts is in the back of the book where it talks about what to call black people and how that has changed over the years from negro, to African American, and to simply Black. And what does that mean exactly?

Black is... a culture, a history, a movement, a family. It’s beautiful and vibrant and full of so much more than what I, a white woman, could ever begin to tell you. So I won’t, and instead I’ll point you to some own voices who can, and I think this book has done such a great job.

For those who don’t know, my husband is black and my son is biracial. Whenever I see a diverse children’s book, I immediately want to read it with my son because I while I think it’s so important to read about people and experiences different from your own, it is also so, so very important to see yourself in literature, or movies, or positions of power. I want my son to see himself in everything he is exposed to and know that nothing is out of reach for him.

As a parent, you look at your child and you want to give them the moon and stars and anything you could possibly give them, but unless you have a cisgendered, straight, white boy, sadly that’s not always possible. I’m so glad that we live in an age where books like this line children’s shelves and where we have Miles Morales’ Spider-Man.

But when I take him to toddler play groups, or library story times, or even to my side of the family’s Thanksgiving, he is usually the only one there who looks like him. I don’t ever want him to feel lost or disconnected from his race. And yes, he has my husband and that side of the family. But I’m the one who is home with him all day every day, and if I can find little gems like this book to read with him and help him with his identity, then hell yes I’m going to do that.

Not only does this book encapsulate what it feels like and what means to be black in a child friendly way, it also has an index at the back full of black history throughout the years in the US. I think this book would be wonderful for a classroom library or if you’re similar to me and my experiences.

I would also love to hear from any reviewers of color who have read this book as well and I’d love to know what they thought of it.
Profile Image for Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance.
5,769 reviews280 followers
August 22, 2020
Angela Joy riffs on the word "Black..."

"Black is molasses from tall sugarcane.
Black is soft-singing,
'Hush now, don't explain.'"

...as a color...

"Black is a crayon, tangled in a box.
Black is a feather on white winter snow.
Black is the dirt where sunflowers grow.
My color is black."

...as a culture...

"Black is the heart of a candle and flame.
Black is the power of movement in pain."


"Black are the braids in my best friend's hair.
Black are the bottoms of summertime feet."

...in the past...

"Black is the color of ink staining page.
Black is the mask that shelters his rage."

...in the future...

"Black are the branches that carry my name:
weaving, wrapping, lifting,
laughing, hoping, graphing, quiet,

...with all the beautiful and hopeful promises of that word.

Black is a rainbow color.
Profile Image for Danielle.
363 reviews12 followers
January 25, 2020
There are so many stunning details delivered by the book's illustrations. It masters that tricky balance between being sweet and charming but also completely Important and Educational. The back matter - lists of songs, poems, as well as general guidance for teaching Black history - makes this the perfect book to give to any parent who wishes to address race with their child.

It's not just about teaching kids acceptance and self-affirming difference. It's as necessary to learn the history of a group's inequality and their unique cycle of trauma; they are essential points to teach children of ANY age. BLACK IS A RAINBOW COLOR is vibrant and heartfelt, a new favorite to share far and wide.
Profile Image for Michele Knott.
3,549 reviews156 followers
February 15, 2020
This is a book that will stick with me for a long time and one that takes multiple readings to unpack. It reminds me a lot of Fry Bread in that way. You can't just get everything about this book in one reading.
First of all, there is so much in the backmatter to pay attention to - you'll want to play the music that is listed in the background, you'll flip back and forth from the backmatter to the corresponding pages to learn more and get greater depth of understanding.
I'm really looking forward to hearing how educators and librarians use this book with readers and the conversations that occur.
Profile Image for Deb in UT.
1,223 reviews16 followers
September 9, 2020
I like the illustrations of this book. I also like the concept of showing that black is beautiful, like a rainbow.
Profile Image for Heather.
85 reviews17 followers
February 11, 2021
I LOVE THIS BOOK!! The message and the poetry and the illustrations are all beautiful! Ekua Holmes’s collage/stained glass style paintings make my heart sing!
1,143 reviews43 followers
April 20, 2020
The colorful illustrations in this book were gorgeous, as was Angela Joy's writing. I really appreciated ALL of the backmatter included. Looking forward especially to listening to the recommended playlist.

Appreciated receiving an ARC of this book and not having to wait until it was officially published to read it.

I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you: http://www.indiebound.org
Profile Image for Kris.
2,880 reviews69 followers
July 31, 2020
This is incredible. I will admit the illustrations are not to my taste, but they are well-done and fit the book. BUT THE TEXT. The text is straight-up phenomenal. The poetic picture book text. The author's note with the explanation of Black vs. brown. The playlist. The explanations of the phrasing choices. The inclusion of the poems referenced. The timeline of Black ethnonyms in America. Perfection. Just perfection.
Profile Image for Katie Reilley.
773 reviews27 followers
November 2, 2019
I found my first book for my Caldecott 2021 list!

Beautiful text and stunning illustrations. Extensive back matter, including poetry, an author’s note, a musical playlist, and explanations about historical events that support the text.

Publishes 1/14/20. Will be my first purchase of 2020. Preorder now.
Profile Image for Tiffany.
29 reviews
February 11, 2020
This is a fantastic book for kids for any month of the year - but it really is a great way to start teaching young ones about Black History Month. The resources in the back part of the book are fascinating. The songs, poems, and historical notes really elevate this book as a teaching tool. And the artwork and lyrical style of sentences make it an amazing book to read aloud.
6,929 reviews26 followers
February 26, 2020
Beautiful message; beautiful book. The illustrations bring the text to life as a young girl shares why Black is part of the rainbow. Joy brings readers through a variety of experiences and emotions. Don't miss the important historical figures placed in the background. Information text at the end of the story shares more beyond the verses in the book.
Profile Image for Mary.
1,580 reviews
January 31, 2020
I absolutely loved this book! The illustrations are beautiful, and the text is lyrical and beautiful. I also really enjoyed the back matter, which included three poems and the evolution of what Black Americans have been called. This would make for a great read-aloud for 5-8 y/o.
2,537 reviews14 followers
February 4, 2020
I enjoyed the stained glass feel of this book. I think it was a great way to show off the black lines.
Profile Image for Erica.
203 reviews6 followers
April 12, 2020
A beautiful book

This picture book is beautiful, poignant and strong and a reminder for us all. A must read for all ages
Profile Image for Pickle wagon Mcgee.
24 reviews2 followers
June 17, 2020
Let me say. This book was by far one of the best books my 3 year old picked out. Thank you for this book
Profile Image for Alison Rose.
739 reviews70 followers
January 21, 2023
I don't think a picture book has ever made me tear up before. Kudos, Ms Joy and Ms Holmes!

This is an absolutely wonderful book, both in style and substance. I love the general message that even though the color Black does not appear in rainbows, it is no less a beautiful and meaningful color, and as much a part of the wider world as any other hue. Connecting the Blackness of identity to the many many elements of our lives that are also black was a rather ingenious way to communicate to young Black children that they belong in this world just as they are, and that they are as lovely and amazing as anyone else. Black is so often portrayed as a color of fear and fright and danger and evil, so it's terrific to showcase it instead as a color of love and hope and light and life.

The artwork in here is fantastic. I loved how it often filled the entire page, and the way Ms Holmes layers in bits of newsprint and book pages and photos within her drawings. It's very eye-catching and I think would be especially intriguing to very young readers. Lots of little touches too, like when the child in the book is on a swing hanging from a tree, and there is a shaft of sunlight coming down over her between the swing ropes. I also really appreciated all the extra elements at the end--the author's note about her inspiration for the book, a music playlist to go along with it, some poems, explanations of some of the references in the book, a list of identity terms that Black folks have used over the decades.

Really remarkable work that left me a little verklempt in the best way.
Profile Image for Emily.
1,180 reviews9 followers
April 12, 2021
Beautiful look at the word "Black" to describe the African American culture and history. Lots of references within the text and all are very well explained in the back matter. This would be a great cross-disciplinary book to study for elementary kids.
Profile Image for Kris Patrick.
1,490 reviews70 followers
January 13, 2021
Very cool that this book has a playlist at the end. Ive never thought of a playlist with a picture book, only with young adult novels!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 333 reviews

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