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The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love & Truth

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This short story collection is a call-to-action that invites all families to be anti-racist and advocates for change. Thirty diverse, authors and illustrators engage young people in frank discussions about racism, identity, and self-esteem.

THE TALK has the following featured contributors: Selina Alko, Tracey Baptiste, Derrick Barnes, Natacha Bustos, Cozbi A. Cabrera, Raúl Colón, Adam Gidwitz, Nikki Grimes, Rudy Gutierrez, April Harrison, Wade Hudson, Gordon C. James, Minh Lê, E.B. Lewis, Grace Lin, Torrey Maldonado, Meg Medina, Christopher Myers, Daniel Nayeri, Zeke Peña, Peter H. Reynolds, Erin K. Robinson, Traci Sorell, Shadra Strickland, Don Tate, MaryBeth Timothy, Duncan Tonatiuh, Renée Watson, Valerie Wilson Wesley, Sharon Dennis Wyeth.

148 pages, Hardcover

First published August 11, 2020

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About the author

Wade Hudson

53 books44 followers
Wade Hudson is the author of nearly 30 books for children and Young adults. He and his wife Cheryl are the founders of Just Us Books, Inc., a leading publisher of multicultural books for children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 191 reviews
Profile Image for Betsy.
Author 8 books2,836 followers
October 21, 2020
What are we teaching our children? Or, put another way, what are we allowing other people to teach our children? If you live in the year 2020 then you are living through history. And history, like it or not, isn’t boring. But the business of publishing books for children is a slow process. The titles that we are seeing on our bookstore shelves right now have usually been in the works for years and years. Pre-COVID, at the very least. When you want to use the current cultural moment as a springboard, it can be difficult to do so when looking at the current crop of books for kids out there. But racism, in all its myriad forms, isn’t trendy. It isn’t something dreamed up in 2020. It’s longstanding, systematic, and baked into the foundation of our society. When George Floyd and Breonna Taylor were murdered and the country erupted into nationwide protests, lots of people started buying books that would help them understand the current cultural moment. Books like How to Be an Antiracist and So You Want to Talk About Race and Caste continue to fly off the shelves. But what about the children of those people? If you want to talk to your children seriously about race in this country, where do you begin? If they’re on the younger side of things you might hand them Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham, but older kids need more sophisticated content. And to be perfectly frank, I’ve seen few books that tap into that desire to know more than The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth. Pitch perfect in tone and content, this is supposedly the book that will help all parents talk to their kids. In truth? This also is the book that will help KIDS talk to their parents. It’s a two-way street and everybody’s driving.

Thirty authors and illustrators. “There are many reasons why parents and caregivers share 'The Talk’ with children,” write editors Wade and Cheryl Willis Hudson in the Foreword. And so, with the help of those thirty people, the Hudsons have compiled together a book that looks at different kinds of talks people have with their kids. Some are discussions of why the children must never despair, living in America today. Others prepare their offspring for danger, physically and emotionally. There are talks about why the offhand comment from that stranger you met the other day is NOT okay. Talks about what our ancestors left us. And if these have a common thread or through line, it comes from knowing that the words in this book, the advice it gives, aren’t just for the children of the creators. We aren’t all authors. We don’t all have the words to say what needs to be said to our children. Take comfort then in relying upon the experts. What they have to say, we all need to hear.

I flip through this book and think about how a kid would read through it. No book has just one use, after all. A book of essays, like this one, certainly CAN be read cover to cover, but let’s be realistic about how this book is going to get into the hands of kids and what it’s going to do once it’s there. If I’m a kid and someone put this book into my hands with very little context (which you know will happen when it ends up being assigned without much discussion or explanation) the first thing I’m going to do is flip through it. And since I’m the kind of person that likes everything to go in my order, rather than the intended one, I start at the back. So I start to flip and practically the first thing at the back that catches my eye is a great big image of a minotaur. That would be part of the essay “Mazes” by Christopher Myers (and one of my favorite pieces in the book). There isn’t much in the way of comics in the book, aside from a one pager by Natacha Bustos and one by Zeke Pena. And the images that are in the book are all black and white, but the design is strong. It changes style and none of the essays are ever too long. It’s the kind of book you can dip in and out of without much difficulty, and for all that its cover looks deadly serious (and starkly beautiful) there’s a lot of light and life and joy inside. But yeah, the likelihood is that a kid will be handed it, rather than think to seek it out themselves, is high.

The essays themselves? Well, as with any collection they’re going to vary in quality. I know not what magic the Hudson’s yielded to get people to submit. The roster of contributors is a veritable who’s who of big names in the field. Still, I was wary going into it. Sometimes when I read a collection I’ll get the feeling that some of the creators just tossed off their submissions. That is not the case here. Here, even when I feel that a piece doesn’t hit as hard as its fellows, it’s still thoughtful, considered, and you can see the intentional hand of the author. Generally speaking, I found the pieces that were just letters to children to be less interesting than the ones that engaged actively with the material. When authors would pluck real world moments from their lives, or the lives of their children, and work them into their pieces, that was key. I’m not allowed to have favorites, and I know that, but Tracey Baptiste’s “Ten” in which she calmly and carefully enumerates to her son the ten rules on being pulled over by the police when you are Black, is thick with tension. I love how it’s accompanied by a piece of art by April Harrison. In a more just world, this book would have been full color. As it is, you come to admire where the art arrives and who is paired together. The balance between different types of pieces and illustrations also lets me admire the editors’ work as well. The Hudsons have crafted this book in the only order it could really have gone.

We all have our prejudices. Here’s one of mine. When I was flipping through the list of authors and illustrators featured in this book, I found myself nodding along at the long litany of names. Derrick Barnes, yep. Selina Alko, of course. Torrey Maldonado, absolutely. Adam . . . Gidwitz? A little bit of a pause on that one. Granted, I’ve heard Gidwitz begin talks with land acknowledgment statements. Plus his Unicorn Rescue Society books make a point of bringing in BIPOC authors when appropriate. Still, he felt like the odd apple out. Why was he in this book? Only when I read it did that I realize that as a white parent, it was Gidwitz’s story that kicked me hard and fast in the gut. While other essays in this collection are memoirs or stories or poems, Gidwitz’s is about white privilege. It doesn’t go all out and say that, of course. Instead, the title of his piece is the chilling title “Our Inheritance”. Chilling, I say, once you read the piece. In it, Gidwitz and his daughter talk about racism. She’s white, in fourth grade, and certain that she doesn’t know any racists. Gidwitz counters this with a story about her great-great-grandfather who was Jewish and arrived in Mississippi. As I read this story, I initially felt disappointed. The story of Papa Jake and how he pulled himself up by his bootstraps felt so reductive and overly familiar. The happy family story we white people tell one another and our children, with the significant gaps glided over. But Gidwitz isn’t playing around. In time, it became very clear that this wasn't the usual Manifest Destiny tale. He points out the fact that even Papa Jake had privileges in late-19th century America. He notes that their current comfortable financial situation comes from the company he founded. And then Gidwitz points out that the man made much of his money from sharecropping and kicked his customers off their land when they owed him too much money. And so the money that Gidwitz and his daughter benefit from, is money built on the backs of people enslaved, essentially, to their ancestor. And THAT is the inheritance we white people reckon with. And that is why after I read that story I sought out my own fourth grade daughter and told her the story of our family, and the immigrant from Norway, her Great-great-great grandfather who started a bakery in Oklahoma on land stolen from Indigenous populations. Because when we hear about The Talk that is given to kids of races that aren’t white, we white people forget that we have our own “Talks” that we should be giving. And thanks to this book, we can get a little push in the right direction by its example.

Is it for kids or for adults? I fielded that question the other day. I believe my answer was, “Yep.” So much of its success is going to rely on how it’s used. I can think of teachers assigning one story per day to a class. A parent reading a piece a night and then talking with their child. There will be the occasional older reader, maybe in middle school or high school, who operate on a lower reading level but wants something “real” that doesn’t talk down to them. Or the younger kid that’s so desperate to join the world of older kids and adults that they’re trying to read everything they can on racism so that they can understand everything better than the adults that surround them. To be an author is to put words out into the universe and never know how they’re going to perceived, appreciated, considered, or contextualized. The authors or illustrators in this book will not meet the bulk of their readers. And the Hudsons themselves don’t know, once this book is available for purchase in the real world, what its impact might be. I used to think I had a hard time with purposeful books, but now I know that’s not quite right. I have a hard time with poorly made purposeful books. Books like The Talk, however, are right up my alley. Release it into the world yourself and see what it does. Odds are, it’ll do good that reverberates for a long time. You’ll just never know.

For ages 9 and up.
Profile Image for Laura Gardner.
1,680 reviews113 followers
September 11, 2020
Heartprint book alert! Recommended for all libraries and all families. ❤️🌟💯
The Talk is a beautiful anthology of personal stories about discussing race and racism. It's written from many different perspectives (not just along the Black-white binary) and in many different ways (prose, poetry, epistolary, etc) with incredible black and white illustrations throughout. There is something here for absolutely everyone and every reader will have a personal reaction to this book. My nine year old son and I read this together this weekend and had our own Talk along the way. I am grateful to the authors of this book for making that conversation so rich!
Some specific thoughts. For me, Adam Gidwitz's (@adam_gidwitz - white author) conversation ("Our Inheritance") with his daughter about his family's historical participation in racism (and the impact on the present) was what hit me hardest. So much to unpack there as a white woman. "Handle Your Business" by Derrick Barnes (@authorderrickdbarnes) is an incredible example of what happens when Black children are taught to be proud of their royal past and are given the tools to speak up.
Given what's going on in my district right now with our racist mascot of an “Indian”, it was important for me to read in The Way of the Anigiduwagi by Traci Sorell (@tracisorell ): "folks will say and do some pretty demeaning things while telling you that they are 'honoring' Native people. Don't buy it for a minute. We're not mascots, products to be sold, or a spiritual belief system to be appropriated. All of this causes real damage through lower self-worth, abuse, violence, and trafficking of our people. It also results in adults who enact policies that harm our continued existence..." Lets take this opportunity, Dartmouth. #retirethemascot
#middleschoollibrary #library #librarian #futurereadylibs #iteachlibrary #bookstagrammer #bookstagram #librariesofinstagram #librariansofinstagram #librariesfollowlibraries #librarylife #librarianlife #schoollibrarian #middlegrade #middlegradebooks #iteach #librarylove #booksbooksbooks #amreading #bibliophile #schoollibrariansrock #bookreview #igreads #malibrary #msla
Profile Image for Amy.
1,069 reviews34 followers
September 16, 2020
My coworker handed me this book this morning and told me I should read it. I've heard her talking about it with some others in our building, and I'll admit that I was curious, but I didn't really know what it was about. I had heard the first part of the title "The Talk" and knew it dealt with relationships. I assumed it was about marriage or communication.

I was wrong. (this isn't the first, nor the last time this will be the case)

This book was a haunting thing for me to read. I came in to this with a load of white privilege, and reading these stories through that lens was HARD. Because, no matter how much I try, I cannot imagine thinking I have to tell my kids how they need to act during a traffic stop (besides to not happily shout how fast I was going), or explain why they will be judged for speaking in public the same way they speak at home. These vignettes were snippets into lives that felt foreign to me, but also achingly familiar. It's a book that I think people would go back to, again and again, to reread a passage, or to ponder a point. Recommended for readers of almost all ages-if it is going to be given to younger readers (grades 3-6), I would say it would be best to read with an adult so that important conversations can happen.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,022 reviews19 followers
July 26, 2020
Thank you to Crown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this E-ARC. A powerful compilation of poems, stories, reflections, and letters to their children from various authors written with love and addressing the truth about race. Each author shares a unique “talk” that gives the reader a glimpse into their personal experience and truth. I am grateful to each author and illustrator who contributed to this beautiful collection of pieces from their hearts.
Profile Image for Jessica Haider.
1,791 reviews260 followers
October 2, 2020
The Talk is a collection containing essays and poems by 30 diverse authors. These works are addressed to their children or about children. The central theme of all of the entries in this collection is race and talking to children about loving themselves BUT understanding that racism exists in the world. The authors offer guidance to the children on how to navigate in the world.

This collection is important, moving, sad but at the same time inspiring. It is sad that we still live in a world where a Black mom needs to tell her son how to handle himself during interactions with the police. It is sad that we live in a world where people still feel the need to tell young Chinese girls that they look like "China Dolls" or that schools chose to make a caricature of a race or tribe their mascot. This book touches on all of these points. There is also a lot of love and hope for a better future woven throughout.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy!
Profile Image for emma.
769 reviews29 followers
August 28, 2020
Y’all gotta read this. The Talk is exactly that: A book of short race-focused “Talks,” written by award winning children book authors and illustrators, of many races, in many forms (poetry, essay, narrative, etc). Usually these pieces are written from the point of view of a parent to a child, discussing racism, how to navigate the world as a person of color, and self empowerment. This book creates an experience that feels deeply intimate, tender, and devastating too, yet hopeful. Kids and the adults in their lives will have much to discuss, from family history, to systematic racism and capitalism, to self empowerment. This book is a lovely more personal piece to read alongside a book about antiracism, such as This Book is Antiracist by Tiffany Jewell.
Profile Image for D'Arcy.
241 reviews3 followers
December 28, 2020
A great thing to read with your kids. It has the best description of racism and why it started than I have ever been able to give my daughter. These are brief but powerful stories that should be shared.
Profile Image for Sarah Krajewski.
1,042 reviews
August 15, 2020
A collection of gorgeous poems, stories, memories, and images that are filled with truth, love, and acceptance. ❤️ I look forward to reading this with my own children and my students.

NOTE: there were a few lines in one poem that I didn’t agree with—lines about a white mother encouraging her biracial son to never wearing a hoodie and never put his hands in his pockets—so I will be interested to hear what others think.
Profile Image for Kathy Iwanicki.
440 reviews5 followers
August 5, 2020
loved everything about this book. It is a collection of essays, letters, poems, short stories from various authors. These vignettes are incredibly moving and personal. I was moved to tears many times. I highly recommend this book. As a teacher, would be great to do as read aloud accompanied by the author’s own text. This book will stick with me for a long time.
306 reviews5 followers
November 18, 2020
This book is a collection of letters, stories, and poems from adults to their children. I thought it would all consist of “the talk” that I’ve been told black children receive, but “the talks” in this book varied - chapter examples include advice for black children in a white world, what girls should expect in our society, and why calling a girl of Chinese heritage a “China doll” is incredibly offense. It was a helpful compassion and understanding builder for someone like me, a white man who was blind to the experiences of non-white men for so long.

One letter was a “here’s what you need to know” about being white and living in country built on racism. Part of that chapter is worth retyping here:

“Only this: I want you to be honest with yourself about our inheritance—our inheritance of racism. Learn about it. Think about it. Maybe one day you want to join the people who are working to fight racism in our society. I hope you do. But the first step, the most important step, he’s being honest. Learning, and being uncomfortable with what you learn, and most of all, being honest. And then, when you have a child, and you have this talk with them, maybe will be living in a more fair and just world. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to say that you helped make it that way.”
Profile Image for Kirsten.
1,016 reviews
January 25, 2021
An important book for all readers--parents, kids and young adults. From the back cover: "Thirty diverse and award winning authors and illustrators capture frank discussions about racism, identity and self-esteem. Here is an invitation to all families to be advocates and allies for change." Very insightful.
Profile Image for Stacy Whelan.
64 reviews6 followers
December 31, 2020
This is a small book with huge impact. Such a great resource for parents & teachers to start essential conversations with our kids. The contributors to this is an amazing collection of authors & illustrators. I will incorporate this little gem into many lesson plans! Educators: Buy this book!
Profile Image for Jennifer.
3,701 reviews45 followers
January 19, 2023
Written as a series of stories or conversations (or poetry) from parents to their children, this powerful little book explores the causes, the effects, and the systemic nature of racism in a way that middle grade kids can understand. Reading this book together would be a wonderful way to introduce these kinds of conversations and issues to children. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for superawesomekt.
1,415 reviews43 followers
November 30, 2020
3.5 stars

Quick and insightful collection of essays, letters, and imagined conversations encompassing "The Talk" i.e. discussion about social situations and race.
Profile Image for Adele.
10 reviews
August 24, 2020
Will be bringing this book into my classroom of high school English learners. Stories are engaging, short, perfect for starting conversations and writing.
Profile Image for Maddie Rojas Lynch.
98 reviews3 followers
August 17, 2020
I loved this book with my whole heart! So moving, insightful, and inspirational. A great resource for discussing racism and anti-racism with young people
Profile Image for TheNextGenLibrarian.
1,897 reviews
August 13, 2020
The Talk is an automatic purchase for my MS library and let me tell you why...
This incredibly powerful short story collection brought so many amazing authors together to write about what The Talk means to our diverse youth and their communities.
It invites all children and adults alike to be antiracist and do the work for our future. It’s a call-to-action that I’m here for and I will be highlighting this book in the fall.
Profile Image for A Lil' Bit Bookish.
161 reviews1 follower
August 28, 2020
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random Children’s House for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This was one of my favorites reads of all time, at only one hundred and thirty pages. The many authors that contributed to this compilation of stories gave insight into conversations that take place in homes of immigrants and minorities around the country. “The Talk” opens the door to an understanding that can allow people to begin to look at the world from a more anti-racist view. The stories are not heavy handed or forceful. You can tell in the writing alone that they are written out of love and truth, their truth.

As a woman of color who has had “The Talk” with my own parents and later with my own children, reading this book made me feel validated. I finally felt as if I wasn’t the only one that needed to inform and be informed about what the world may throw our way simply due to our race. It is a balancing act of loving your race and the skin you’re in, while trying to understand why so many hate you because of it.

The thing I loved the most about this book (other than everything), is it is a read that can be digested and understood for the youngest of children to the oldest of adults. As our country tries to come to grips with the inequalities that people of color face, books such as this need to be out there in the forefront teaching all of us a better way. Making us realize that until we begin to see the heart of a person before their race and economic status we can’t fully become a truly great nation. As a librarian, I would love to see this book become required reading in schools across the country. My hope would be that it could help even our youngest understand the work that needs to be done to better race relations in America.
HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for any and all ages.
Profile Image for sparkypink.
134 reviews
August 2, 2020
The Talk is a collection of stories, letters, and poems, written by parents for their children, talking about their experiences of racism, segregation, discrimination, and love. They encourage their children to be proud of who they are and where they came from. It is eye opening for white people, and empowering for people of color. It’s a must read for everyone, and can help open the doors for difficult and necessary conversations.

I received a digital ARC of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.
Profile Image for Lulu's Book Journey .
59 reviews1 follower
June 24, 2020
Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson have blessed us with another stellar anthology!
"The Talk" is a beautiful collection of powerful, truthful, and heart-wrenching short stories, letters, poems, and essays! These amazing writers reflect upon their own personal experiences with racism, segregation, discrimination and prejudice as well as sharing the life lessons they have passed down to their own children.

Reading these writings made me realize that as a parent you are always having, "The Talk", with your child. "The Talk" is not an event that just happens around the kitchen table one day. "The Talk" is a presence in our everyday lives.

When we encourage our children to acknowledge, express, and release their feelings. When we teach our children to be proud of our history, culture, and language. When we instill pride, respect and honor of our ancestors within our children. When we explain to our children how systematic racism and prejudice has been used to divide us, how alike we are, and how much we stronger we are together. When we plant the seeds of education and literacy within our children. When we model to our children how to be mindful and AntiRacist...we are having, "The Talk."
320 reviews
May 13, 2020
The Talk is a powerful collection of poems, stories, essays, and letters to contributing author's children that tackle what it means to identify as a minority population / person of color in current political times. There are gorgeous illustrations that accompany each story. The most powerful contribution, in my opinion, is "Ten" by Tracey Baptiste; it is about a woman of color teaching her young child ten rules to follow when being pulled over by the police. This needs to be an addition to every classroom library (ages 10 and up) and home libraries. "We wish we had the space to capture all of these conversations within these pages, because we know they are hapening and we know people are hurting... we can all begin to build a more accepting world for each other."

Advanced reader's copy provided courtesty of #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kim.
1,406 reviews25 followers
July 8, 2020
This anthology of “Talks” around race that well-known children’s and YA authors might share with their own children covers a multitude of perspectives. Derrick Barnes, Grace Lin, Traci Sorrell, Duncan Tonatiuh, Minh Le... such a diverse and engaging collection of shared wisdom. There is so much power in the contributions from Tracy Baptiste, Meg Medina, and Adam Gidwitz. The fact that many of the authors’ entries are complemented by illustrations from some of today’s most talented illustrators rounds the collection out beautifully.
Editors Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson have outdone themselves.

Thanks to Crown Books for Young Readers and to NetGalley for the digital arc.
June 3, 2020
It’s not often that you sit down for a conversation about race & everyone at the table gets to share their story and experiences. This compilation allowed me to listen to many stories that I might grow in empathy & understanding. It’s written so well for this age group - the authors & editors handle the topic with such care and vulnerability. This is an important book to share with preteens, as well as adults.
Profile Image for Danielle Masterson.
122 reviews6 followers
June 28, 2020
Thank you to the publisher & Netgalley for this eARC of The Talk. The Hudsons are a favorite of mine, so I was pleased to see them tackle “The Talk” with the help of several amazing authors and illustrators. This book will open the eyes of white readers, while giving other readers a chance to see themselves in these essays. Favorite essays were: I’m A Dancer by Sharon Dennis Wyeth and Tough Tuesday by Nikki Grimes.
332 reviews1 follower
July 7, 2020
This is a powerful anthology that includes stories, poems, letters, and other writing pieces by authors sharing their personal experiences related to systemic racism and the lessons they have learned. It's personal, honest, and empowering. The list of authors and illustrators who have contributed to this book is amazing. This is a book that should be shared and discussed widely. Thanks to the publisher for a digital review copy.
Profile Image for Xavier (cursesandkings).
38 reviews1 follower
May 23, 2020
I finished the book in a day and a half! I don’t think I’ve ever read anything to fast! The Talk is a powerful anthology with different authors of color and cultures! A book I wish was required reading in schools! Mostly high school where teens know what’s right and wrong but might still need a little wake up call that some people experience racism everyday!
947 reviews11 followers
June 7, 2020
Powerful & moving stories and poems/prose alongside beautiful drawings/ artwork that helps to convey the raw emotions contained within these pages.
This was a wonderful surprise of collected short stories that will hopefully inspire those who read it to help educate others as we strive forward in life.
Multi cultural.
A MUST read!
Profile Image for Eti.
125 reviews18 followers
June 5, 2020
Available right now on Netgalley: https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/boo...
I read it in one sitting (as in staying up late into the night). Absolutely necessary, powerful, hopeful, accessible, powerful. And just look at the list of authors in this collection! Highly recommended.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 191 reviews

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