I Am Whole By Shola Oz, Illustrated by Shifa Annisa (2020) – paperback
Recommended ages: 3 to 7
I Am Whole is a delightful picture book that recognizes what it really means to be mixed-race. Names and ethinicity are intentionally left out of this story so as to appeal to as many children as possible. Although the primary family is comprised of a white dad, brown-skinned mom, and their daughter, there are prominent depictions of various cultures and multiracial characters.
Author Shola Oz creates a wonderful primer for young readers just beginning to inquire about their race. For a deeper dive into skin color and other potentially tough questions about race, see our recommendation below.
Oz mentions different hair textures and languages, but primarily emphasizes the fact that being mixed race means you are a combination of two very different backgrounds. And this should always be celebrated and embraced! Illustrator Shifa Annisa perfectly reflects this message in her colorful and joyous depictions.
Take-away message: Encourages mixed-race children to embrace and celebrate their diversity and multi-ethnic heritage.
TAGS: mixed-race, female-lead, family, nuclear family, diverse characters, self-published, paperback
From the author: What makes I Am Whole different?
1. No mention of skin color. It is important to recognize that mixed and multicultural children come in many shades (so do thier parents) and mentioning skin color can unintentionally exclude children to which these books apply.
2. There are no comparisons to food, treats or desserts. It’s important that when mixed and multicultural children question why they look different that an explanation can be provided without referring to the above. Being mixed, whatever your shade, is a beautiful result of your parents coming from different places, there are a number of color blends that can be created as a result and how your child turns out is just right.
3. Acknowledgement that “everything you’re mixed with makes you everything you are.” Mixed and multicultural children are just like any other child, except they’re more likely to be exposed to more cultures and traditions as a result of families blending. This is something to be celebrated!
About the Author:
Shola Oz is a London raised professional with a background in Law. Growing up in the most diverse city in England positively contributed to her upbringing and exposed her from a very early age to accept and celebrate those from different backgrounds.
The inspiration for I Am Whole stems from raising her mixed race daughter. A key lesson she aims to instill in her parenting through storytelling is shining a light on mixed and multicultural children.
Sharing this with the world by taking away the focus on color and identification with one culture over another, Shola writes in a fun, inclusive and fresh style for everyone to enjoy and learn from.
She wants all children reading this book to feel represented by promoting the positives of being multicultural such as language, family, and traditions.
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