Shades of Black


by Sandra L. Pinkney

Photographs by Myles C. Pinkney

Multicultural Read Aloud

The read aloud is planned for kindergarteners. Shades of black is a picture book about diversity of skin color and other characteristics of African American children. The author used descriptions of the different shades of the skin and eyes, as well as, the textures of hair. It lets children know they are unique and the should embrace it. This book teaches an appreciation of the different cultures in the world.

The book has been recognized in: 2001 Charlotte Zolotow Award; Winner, CCBC 2001 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Discussion.

Procedures for reading:


Unique: being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else

Before Reading
Ask all of the children to stand close together in a circle. Ask them to pull up their sleeves and place their arms out into the circle. Encourage the group to notice their different skin tones. Tell them that they will read a story that celebrates the beautiful skin colors that all children have.

During the reading:

Invite the children to find colors shown in the photographs that looks like their own skin tones and eye colors.

After the reading

Ask the class to share what they learned. How are all of the children alike? How are they different?

Ask the children to describe how they are similar to the children shown in the book.


  1. Explain to the children that a simile is a comparison between two things that are different often using like or as. Use the book to point out several examples of similes like "midnight blue like a licorice stick," and "gingery brown like a cookie."
  2. Ask them to think of other similes that describe their skin tones, eye color, and hair texture or style. Record their comments on board.
  3. Ask them to think of more similes to describe themselves like tall as a tree, funny as a monkey, or wiggly as a worm.


· Why was this particular book selected? How did it “match” the funds of knowledge of this particular class/group of students?

· What were the strengths of the read aloud/the picture book/vocabulary teaching presentation?

· What would I need to do differently next time?

· Respond to the following open-ended statement: Implementing multicultural

children’s literature that is culturally and linguistically diverse relative to my elementary students has helped me…