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Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
I first stumbled upon Red: A Crayon’s Story on the hunt for a book about self-love for Little B, and it turned out to be everything I was looking for and more. The story begins with Red, a crayon who is wrapped up pretty tightly in the label of his identity. Everyone around him is absolutely certain that his label is correct. There’s just one little problem…
Everything Red tries to do comes out just a little bit too blue.
From blue strawberries to a green orange (after trying to work with Yellow), Red finds himself torn between what he is on the inside and what everybody, including his label, keeps telling him. Friends, family, and even teachers start to blame him for what they see as missteps, and he begins to wonder if there might just be something wrong with him after all.
Just in time, Berry swoops in and asks Red to draw her a blue ocean. After he overcomes his initial self-doubt, Red draws a beautiful blue ocean. Suddenly, the people who once doubted his red-ness are embracing his blue-ness, and Red realizes that it’s okay to do what feels right in his heart and be himself, even if it’s not what everyone expects of him.
“I’m blue!” He screams joyfully!
When I read this the first time around, I immediately thought it was an amazing way to teach about the transgender community. The second time around, however, I realized that it can be applied to any message of acceptance that you’re trying to teach your child. It all comes down to the simple fact that it doesn’t matter what you were labeled, because what really, truly counts is what you are on the inside.
- Hall’s use of crayons makes the story easier for younger children to process, since they often struggle with recognizing their own emotions.
- Toddler approved books rarely give such a broad message, and it opens up the opportunity to teach a variety of lessons.
- It’s a cute, fun, age-appropriate way to address self image and acceptance.
- The dialogue for the various supporting characters is written in an odd way. Instead of “‘He’s blue!” she cried.” you’ll find a speech line connecting the dialogue to the individual crayons, which makes it hard to read.
- Berry, the supportive friend, makes it onto two pages or so, which makes it hard to point out that this is the kind of friend we should have and should want to be, because she gets written off as minor.
Overall, this book delivered an overwhelmingly beautiful message of self acceptance that’s easy for a child of any age to process. Pick up a copy here and let me know what you think. Or, if you’ve already read it, let me know how you felt about it in the comments!