Book Review: Shades of Black

First published in 2000, “Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children” by Sandra L. Pinkney and Myles C. Pinkney communicates both visually and poetically the concept of individuality and self-image to African-American children. This book uses extraordinary photographs that each coincide with artistic descriptions: “I am the midnight blue in a licorice stick / and the golden brown in sugar.” This book is a phenomenal tool for discussing diversity with children and is an amazing resource to develop a child’s self-image.

Despite “Shades of Black” receiving heavily positive reviews (a rating of 4.5 of 5 stars on both Amazon and, some readers expressed concern on this book’s affects on diversity in America, specifically regarding the ‘One-Drop Rule’.

For those unfamiliar with the One-drop Rule, here is a link to a website with more information. Essentially, the One-drop Rule is the concept of the sociological combining of all African races into a single ‘black’ race, ignoring the various African cultures that exist. Critics claim that the repeated use of the phrase, “I am Black, I am Unique” is grouping the pictures in this book into a single black race and claim that this book is doing more harm to the issues of diversity than help.

Regardless of opinion, “Shades of Black” by Sandra L. Pinkney and Myles C. Pinkney is a groundbreaking children’s book that creates conversation on the important topics of race, diversity, and self-image with young children. It is available on Tapestry Books!