Two Books About Interracial Families

The Case for Loving
Written by Selina Alko • Illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

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Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a biracial Black and Cherokee woman, fell in love and wanted to get married. However, in 1958, interracial marriages were against the law in their home state of Virginia. This is the story of their marriage, arrest, and Supreme Court fight for the right to love.

Reasons I love it:

  1. It takes a complex and nuanced story and simplifies it without losing deeper themes and emotions. Historical precedent, social tension and ideas of injustice, fear, racism, and equality are woven under an overarching theme of love in a way that is accessible to younger readers.
  2. The illustrations are the creations of Alko and Qualls, an interracial, married couple. In their first collaborative project, they used both paint and collage to blend their styles together. The artwork and artists – both introspective and bold – beautifully symbolizes the story they tell.img_7494
  3. On one hand, it is a powerful historical lesson about the people who fought against injustice and paved the way for many to marry those they love. It also bears a striking resemblance to more recent issues of marriage equality for same-sex couples. On the other hand, it is simply one family’s real and personal story of love. In 1966, Richard told Life magazine: “We are not doing it just because somebody had to do it and we wanted to be the ones. We are doing it for us.”
  4. Their last name was Loving. It doesn’t get more perfect than that!
  5. On a personal note, this book is a reminder of those that fought for justice that I might enjoy the freedoms and family I have today. Though we still have much work to do for racial equity and justice in this country, it is a reminder that we have also come a long way. Change can and does happen.

One Wish: There is a sentence says, “Richard Loving was a good, caring man; he didn’t see differences.” This line implies Richard Loving didn’t see race. The juxtaposition of colorblind language next to the descriptor, “good, caring man” seems to suggest that good, caring men don’t see race. In a book about race, the suggestion that race doesn’t matter is implausible and harmful. While the rest of the book discusses the issue clearly, this sentence misses an opportunity to discuss the reality of noticing race and the choice to either celebrate or discriminate as a result.

One Family
Written by George Shannon • Illustrated by Blanca Gomez

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A counting book that celebrates families of all types. This book shows there are many different ways to be “one.”

Reasons I love it:

  1. Simple text and adorable illustrations celebrate diversity in families. The illustrations show small families and large families, single-parent families, interfaith families, gay parents, interracial parents with biracial children, and people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.
  2. The illustrations are ambiguous, leaving interpretation of each character’s gender, faith, race and family role up to the reader. They provide a fascinating discussion starter. The ambiguity allows readers to draw their own conclusions; they may see themselves reflected in the text, see friends’ families reflected, or come up with other creative interpretations!img_7496
  3. It is a concept book about counting that goes beyond a standard 1-2-3 numbers book. The words and illustrations invite readers to examine each page more deeply.
  4. In line with the counting concept, the message of family diversity centers around the number “one.” In an abstract, yet easily understood manner, the book celebrates diverse families without smashing the message over readers’ heads.

One Wish: Characters that I interpret to be Asian are drawn with little slanted-line slits for eyes. Like, can we get over this slanty, slit-eyed portrayal of Asian people already? Everyone else in the book has dots for eyes; can the Asian people get dots too? Or can illustrators figure out a way to draw Asian eyes without being so stereotypical? That is all.

Let me know what you think if you pick up one of these books! Happy reading!

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