Black is a Rainbow Color – PPBF/Black History Month

Title: Black is a Rainbow Color

Author: Angela Joy

Illustrator: Ekua Holmes

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, 2020

Ages: 4-8

Themes: African Americans, history, stories in rhyme, color black, black culture,

Opening: 

Red is a rainbow color.
Green sits next to blue.
Yellow, orange, violet, indigo,
They are rainbow colors, too, but

My color is black . . .
And there’s no BLACK in rainbows.

Synopsis:

A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this moving and powerful anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on.

From the wheels of a bicycle to the robe on Thurgood Marshall’s back, Black surrounds our lives. It is a color to simply describe some of our favorite things, but it also evokes a deeper sentiment about the incredible people who helped change the world and a community that continues to grow and thrive. (publisher)

Why I like this book:

This is a stunning book, both debut author Angela Joy’s rhythmic powerful celebratory words, but also Ekua Holme’s captivating vivid illustrations in mixed-media reminiscent of stained glass, adding an almost spiritual dimension to this celebration of blackness.

This book looks at the history of a group’s inequality and their surrounding trauma both as individuals and collectively, which we all need to learn about. Yet it remains uplifting. The real focus emerges throughout of teaching children acceptance and self-affirmation. BLACK IS A RAINBOW COLOR is a vibrant and heartfelt picture book of culture and art, and the beauty and strength of a people.

The language takes you by the hand and spins you across the pages.
“Black is a rhythm.”
“Black is the blues.”
“Black is side-walking in spit-shined shoes.”


It is a dream text for any educator and should be included in all classrooms. What a great book to introduce Black History Month to young people. I know we have just had the ALA awards, but I reckon this one might be on next year’s lists.

Activities/Resources:

The back matter is also outstanding: an informative author’s note, historical notes, important African Americans, a playlist of songs, an explanation of all the allusions (including 3 poems that are referenced,) and “A Timeline of Black Ethnonyms in America.” (Ethnonyms means information about names a people have been called and have called themselves (in case the word was also unfamiliar to you as it was to me!)

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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4 Responses to Black is a Rainbow Color – PPBF/Black History Month

  1. Joanna, this book looks (and sounds) fabulous! I love the text you’ve shared, so lyrical and with such a strong voice! And the illustrations are breath-taking, so bold and vibrant. Adding it to my TBR list. Thanks!

  2. Leave it to you to find an exceptional book for Black History Month. It sounds very lyrical and Ekua Holme’s illustrations are gorgeous! I love how author’s come up with ideas for books — this one is a gem! This one is a keeper! Going to check to see if my library has it and if not, ask them to order it!

  3. This looks absolutely epic, incredible, amazing; thank you for scouting out such an important resource.

  4. Patricia Nozell says:

    Great review of what looks to be an important and engaging new picture book. Can’t wait to read it!

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