All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka

Did you know that National Diversity Day is this Friday, October 4, 2019? First established in 2005, National Diversity Day “is a day to celebrate and embrace who we are, despite our differences… A day to reflect on and learn about different cultures and ideologies. A day to vow acceptance and tolerance…” (from the National Diversity Day website). Today, I bring you a stunning book to read with your children this Friday, this week, or any time this year to help recognize and celebrate these differences. Using beautiful illustrations and easy-to-read verse, Sheila Hamanaka embraces and celebrates diversity in All the Colors of the Earth.

Written from her perspective as a Japanese-American mother raising children of multiethnic heritage, All the Colors of the Earth relates natural differences children see in each other (mainly through skin color and hair) to the natural differences we see in nature. Hamanaka begins with “Children come in all the colors of the earth,” and her lyrical (non-rhyming) verse is mirrored by rich oil paintings depicting the colors we see in nature (brown bears, golden grass, russet leaves, pink seashells, and so on). The children in her illustrations are diverse beyond skin color, hopefully leaving almost any child able to identify with a character from her book.

But, this simple and accessible book is not only a celebration of differences, it’s a celebration of love. The second half of Hamanaka’s All the Colors of the Earth begins with “Children come in all the colors of love, in endless shades of you and me.” In this section, we see children embracing and loving each other, but we also see diverse families —  multicultural families and diverse family units — loving each other. Happiness abounds in these illustrations, making my girls and me both want to find friends and family to laugh and dance with.

Before I close this recommendation, one more aspect of this book that stands out to me is that it was published in 1994! While similar titles have been published more recently (such as Honeysmoke: A Story of Finding Your Color, which was published in 2018), I love how forward-thinking HarperKids was with this title. Publishers recommend All the Colors of the Earth for ages 4-8, but you can definitely go younger!

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