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Book Review | My Skin Your Skin: Let’s talk about race, racism and empowerment

12th November 2021

A book review by Alison Morton, Executive Director, iHV.

Author: Laura Henry-Allain MBE (Ladybird Books, published by Penguin Random House UK)

I was delighted to be asked to review this fabulous new book, ‘My Skin Your Skin’ written by early years expert Laura Henry-Allain MBE, with support from Liz Pemberton (aka ‘The Black Nursery Manager’) and Dr Eunice Lumsden (Head of Early Years and Associate Professor at the University of Northampton). The beautifully illustrated book aims to help children and adults have meaningful conversations about race and anti-racism.

I can highly recommend this timely book.

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, unacceptable COVID-19 excess mortality rates amongst minoritised ethnic groups, and widening inequalities, there has been a global awakening of the importance of tackling racism and the unjust inequalities that arise from it. The Black Lives Matter movement called for solidarity to change the world to ensure that black people are treated as humanely and fairly as white people.

Babies and young children are not born racist, and inequalities are not inevitable. We have it in our gift to fix these problems and, like other efforts to tackle inequalities, one of the best places to start is by laying strong foundations in childhood. This book aims to support parents, teachers and those working with children to explain what racism is, why it is wrong, and what children can do if they see it or experience it.

‘My Skin Your Skin’ sensitively tackles these topics with strengths-based messages and helpful tips for adults to support inclusion in its broadest sense:

“We are all born with beautiful skin”

“People can be anything they want to be. Race has nothing to do with what someone can achieve”.

The book is packed full of beautiful illustrations, by Onyinye Iwu, of children from the rainbow of races, and with disabilities, dressing up and acting out their dreams to be a variety of different professions from ballet dancers to builders, and artists to astronauts. The book explores how important it is for children to celebrate their differences, achievements and greatness.

The overarching message is that,

“We should celebrate our different races and cultures. When we do this, we learn new ideas, we eat new foods, we discover that people from different races and cultures created objects and ideas that changed the way we do things every day. There is so much to celebrate in this world”.

This book will support practitioners working in 0-19 public health services and I would encourage you to read it if you get the chance.

Alison Morton, Executive Director, iHV