Written by: Ashok Banker
Illustrated by: Sandhya Prabhat
For ages: 3 years and up
Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Self-Esteem, Social-Emotional Learning, Diversity, Empowerment, Own Voices.
Folx, this book is beautiful inside and out. I Am Brown is a celebration of the many complex and intersecting identities of having brown skin, and it is stunning. Told solely in “I” statements, many voices blend and meld together to showcase the range of diversity within the classroom illustrated.
This lyrical book could be read mantra-like, going through the different languages spoken, houses lived in, as well as different characteristics like eye and hair color. I love the way that so many differences are mentioned and everyone is celebrated for being exactly who they are. Especially in clothing, we see a (presumed female) child wearing a business suit and a (presumed male) child wearing a prom dress. This normalization is beautiful and gives some lovely clothing vocabulary too, showing kids wearing a kurta, lungee, and lehenga among others. I especially liked the page mentioning all the places these children prayed, and having two characters praying “everywhere” and “nowhere”.
The inclusion in this book is stunning, happy children partake in a huge variety of activities and celebrate both their differences and similarities. I loved it, and children of color need this sort of representation in books that exist as a mirror for them. I Am Brown is absolutely worthy of a spot on your shelf!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
ASHOK K. BANKER is the author of more than sixty books, including the internationally acclaimed Ramayana series. His works have all been bestsellers in India and have sold around the world. He lives in Los Angeles.
Sandhya Prabhat is an Independent Animator and Illustrator based in the Bay Area, California and is from Chennai, India. She holds an MFA Degree in Animation and Digital Arts from NYU Tisch School of the Arts Asia, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature from Stella Maris College.