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The Talk

Conversations about Race, Love & Truth

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Thirty diverse, award-winning authors and illustrators invite you into their homes to witness the conversations they have with their children about race in America today in this powerful call-to-action that invites all families to be anti-racists and advocates for change.

"Project[s] love and support." --The New York Times

As long as racist ideas persist, families will continue to have the difficult and necessary conversations with their young ones on the subject. In this inspiring collection, literary all-stars such as Renée Watson (Piecing Me Together), Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon), Meg Medina (Merci Suárez Changes Gears), Adam Gidwitz (The Inquisitor's Tale), and many more engage young people in frank conversations about race, identity, and self-esteem. Featuring text and images filled with love, acceptance, truth, peace, and an assurance that there can be hope for a better tomorrow, The Talk is a stirring anthology and must-have resource published in partnership with Just Us Books, a Black-owned children's publishing company that's been in operation for over thirty years. Just Us Books continues its mission grounded in the same belief that helped launch the company: Good books make a difference.
 
So, let's talk.

Featured contributors: Selina Alko, Tracey Baptiste, Derrick Barnes, Natacha Bustos, Cozbi A. Cabrera, Raul Colón, Adam Gidwitz, Nikki Grimes, Rudy Gutierrez, April Harrison, Wade Hudson, Gordon C. James, Minh Lê, E. B. Lewis, Grace Lin, Torrey Maldonado, Meg Medina, Christopher Myers, Daniel Nayeri, Zeke Peña, Peter H. Reynolds, Erin K. Robinson, Traci Sorell, Shadra Strickland, Don Tate, MaryBeth Timothy, Duncan Tonatiuh, Renée Watson, Valerie Wilson Wesley, Sharon Dennis Wyeth
Foreword
 
There are many reasons why parents and caregivers share “The Talk” with children. For some, it’s to prepare their daughter for the challenges she will surely face because she is female. Others have “The Talk” because of their youngster’s sexual orientation. Immigrant parents have few options but to have it. And many have it because their son or daughter chooses to pursue an occupation, join a team, or participate in an organization where they were not often welcome because of their
physical appearance.
 
The list goes on. There are myriad versions of “The Talk” because there are myriad ways to be human. And we wish we had the space to capture all of these conversations within these pages, because we know they are happening and we know people are hurting. This collection focuses on race, but we hope our readers see the words and images shared here as a starting point and a way we can all begin to build a more accepting world for each other.
 
In our home, we had “The Talk” with our daughter, Katura, and our son, Stephan. Many times. As adults responsible for two beautiful Black children, we knew how essential it was to give them the tools to make their way as safely as possible in a society that is too often hostile to them simply because they are African American. Especially as sometimes that hostility leads to the loss of Black life. So we drummed into them the dos and don’ts, the places to go and places to avoid, what to say, what not to say, and even how to say it. Just as our parents did for us. We desperately wanted to keep our kids protected, but we also didn’t want to erode their positive self-esteem or sense of place in the world. Our talks were balancing acts indeed.
 
We can only imagine the kinds of talks that occur in homes and schools today because so many of us are being picked on, pushed aside, told we don’t belong, or told to go back to where we came from. But we knew a group of people who would have that knowledge firsthand.
 
The outstanding writers and artists whose work is featured in this anthology are intimately familiar with these crucial discussions and know just how important they can be. “The Talk,” as much as any conversation can, helped them become more aware and better equipped when faced with the challenges the world threw at them—challenges that their parents and loved ones anticipated. They share their experiences and the impact “The Talk” has had on their lives as well as the lessons they have passed on to their own children.
 
In these pages, the authors and illustrators use different forms and styles. There are letters, lists, poems, short stories, and essays. Illustrations are rendered in watercolor, collage, pen and ink, acrylic, comix frames, and digital styles. And their messages are as diverse as their mediums.
 
These revealing and frank moments expose lessons of empowerment and periods of shame, times when the contributors were told they were small and instances when role models insisted they were born to be big. With advice and love, harsh realities and encouraging words, the talks offered in this anthology are real conversations that embrace honest ways of thinking that help expand ourselves and others in a complex and diverse society. Too frequently, we are silenced from having tough conversations because we feel we don’t have the words. But what these award-winning creators of books for children and young adults share in this collection are stories and images that are filled with love, acceptance, truth, peace,
and an assurance that there can be hope for a better tomorrow and a better future for all of us. So, let’s talk.
Discussion Guide for The Talk

Provides questions, discussion topics, suggested reading lists, introductions and/or author Q&As, which are intended to enhance reading groups’ experiences.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

  • NOMINEE | 2021
    Massachusetts Children's Book Award
  • SELECTION | 2021
    Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year
  • SELECTION | 2021
    Notable Books for a Global Society Award
  • SELECTION | 2020
    Chicago Public Library Best Books
A NEW YORK TIMES Best Children's Book of the Year
An NPR Best Book of the Year
A Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year

Praise for The Talk:

“The essays, stories, poems and letters . . . make plain that the hard conversations we all need to have about race are part of a broad reckoning with our nation’s history. The book’s black-and-white images project love and support.” —The New York Times

“This star-studded collection of #ownvoices authors calls readers in for necessary reminders in service of everyday actions that we must pursue to cultivate real change.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Though readers of color may find a number of these entries far too familiar, there is striking versatility in the approaches, cultures, and experiences of the authors that will compel readers of all backgrounds to continue forward.” —Booklist, starred review

“Validating for readers already familiar with these kinds of talks and importantly enlightening for those to whom the ideas of such restrictions are new.” —The Bulletin, starred review

“Through contributors’ personal experiences with systemic issues, readers will recognize the necessity of having open dialogue with loved ones. A compelling call to action.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A well-conceived anthology that provides much-needed enlightenment and opportunity for both reflection and discussion.” —The Horn Book

A heartfelt collection that speaks to the multifaceted and nuanced struggles of marginalized people.” —School Library Journal

“This collection should speak to any child or adult—especially BIPOC children and adults—who has been affected by systemic racism and inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. . . . An anthology filled with abiding inspirational messages of self-love and love for others.” —Shelf Awareness

About

Thirty diverse, award-winning authors and illustrators invite you into their homes to witness the conversations they have with their children about race in America today in this powerful call-to-action that invites all families to be anti-racists and advocates for change.

"Project[s] love and support." --The New York Times

As long as racist ideas persist, families will continue to have the difficult and necessary conversations with their young ones on the subject. In this inspiring collection, literary all-stars such as Renée Watson (Piecing Me Together), Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon), Meg Medina (Merci Suárez Changes Gears), Adam Gidwitz (The Inquisitor's Tale), and many more engage young people in frank conversations about race, identity, and self-esteem. Featuring text and images filled with love, acceptance, truth, peace, and an assurance that there can be hope for a better tomorrow, The Talk is a stirring anthology and must-have resource published in partnership with Just Us Books, a Black-owned children's publishing company that's been in operation for over thirty years. Just Us Books continues its mission grounded in the same belief that helped launch the company: Good books make a difference.
 
So, let's talk.

Featured contributors: Selina Alko, Tracey Baptiste, Derrick Barnes, Natacha Bustos, Cozbi A. Cabrera, Raul Colón, Adam Gidwitz, Nikki Grimes, Rudy Gutierrez, April Harrison, Wade Hudson, Gordon C. James, Minh Lê, E. B. Lewis, Grace Lin, Torrey Maldonado, Meg Medina, Christopher Myers, Daniel Nayeri, Zeke Peña, Peter H. Reynolds, Erin K. Robinson, Traci Sorell, Shadra Strickland, Don Tate, MaryBeth Timothy, Duncan Tonatiuh, Renée Watson, Valerie Wilson Wesley, Sharon Dennis Wyeth

Excerpt

Foreword
 
There are many reasons why parents and caregivers share “The Talk” with children. For some, it’s to prepare their daughter for the challenges she will surely face because she is female. Others have “The Talk” because of their youngster’s sexual orientation. Immigrant parents have few options but to have it. And many have it because their son or daughter chooses to pursue an occupation, join a team, or participate in an organization where they were not often welcome because of their
physical appearance.
 
The list goes on. There are myriad versions of “The Talk” because there are myriad ways to be human. And we wish we had the space to capture all of these conversations within these pages, because we know they are happening and we know people are hurting. This collection focuses on race, but we hope our readers see the words and images shared here as a starting point and a way we can all begin to build a more accepting world for each other.
 
In our home, we had “The Talk” with our daughter, Katura, and our son, Stephan. Many times. As adults responsible for two beautiful Black children, we knew how essential it was to give them the tools to make their way as safely as possible in a society that is too often hostile to them simply because they are African American. Especially as sometimes that hostility leads to the loss of Black life. So we drummed into them the dos and don’ts, the places to go and places to avoid, what to say, what not to say, and even how to say it. Just as our parents did for us. We desperately wanted to keep our kids protected, but we also didn’t want to erode their positive self-esteem or sense of place in the world. Our talks were balancing acts indeed.
 
We can only imagine the kinds of talks that occur in homes and schools today because so many of us are being picked on, pushed aside, told we don’t belong, or told to go back to where we came from. But we knew a group of people who would have that knowledge firsthand.
 
The outstanding writers and artists whose work is featured in this anthology are intimately familiar with these crucial discussions and know just how important they can be. “The Talk,” as much as any conversation can, helped them become more aware and better equipped when faced with the challenges the world threw at them—challenges that their parents and loved ones anticipated. They share their experiences and the impact “The Talk” has had on their lives as well as the lessons they have passed on to their own children.
 
In these pages, the authors and illustrators use different forms and styles. There are letters, lists, poems, short stories, and essays. Illustrations are rendered in watercolor, collage, pen and ink, acrylic, comix frames, and digital styles. And their messages are as diverse as their mediums.
 
These revealing and frank moments expose lessons of empowerment and periods of shame, times when the contributors were told they were small and instances when role models insisted they were born to be big. With advice and love, harsh realities and encouraging words, the talks offered in this anthology are real conversations that embrace honest ways of thinking that help expand ourselves and others in a complex and diverse society. Too frequently, we are silenced from having tough conversations because we feel we don’t have the words. But what these award-winning creators of books for children and young adults share in this collection are stories and images that are filled with love, acceptance, truth, peace,
and an assurance that there can be hope for a better tomorrow and a better future for all of us. So, let’s talk.

Guides

Discussion Guide for The Talk

Provides questions, discussion topics, suggested reading lists, introductions and/or author Q&As, which are intended to enhance reading groups’ experiences.

(Please note: the guide displayed here is the most recently uploaded version; while unlikely, any page citation discrepancies between the guide and book is likely due to pagination differences between a book’s different formats.)

Awards

  • NOMINEE | 2021
    Massachusetts Children's Book Award
  • SELECTION | 2021
    Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year
  • SELECTION | 2021
    Notable Books for a Global Society Award
  • SELECTION | 2020
    Chicago Public Library Best Books

Praise

A NEW YORK TIMES Best Children's Book of the Year
An NPR Best Book of the Year
A Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year

Praise for The Talk:

“The essays, stories, poems and letters . . . make plain that the hard conversations we all need to have about race are part of a broad reckoning with our nation’s history. The book’s black-and-white images project love and support.” —The New York Times

“This star-studded collection of #ownvoices authors calls readers in for necessary reminders in service of everyday actions that we must pursue to cultivate real change.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Though readers of color may find a number of these entries far too familiar, there is striking versatility in the approaches, cultures, and experiences of the authors that will compel readers of all backgrounds to continue forward.” —Booklist, starred review

“Validating for readers already familiar with these kinds of talks and importantly enlightening for those to whom the ideas of such restrictions are new.” —The Bulletin, starred review

“Through contributors’ personal experiences with systemic issues, readers will recognize the necessity of having open dialogue with loved ones. A compelling call to action.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A well-conceived anthology that provides much-needed enlightenment and opportunity for both reflection and discussion.” —The Horn Book

A heartfelt collection that speaks to the multifaceted and nuanced struggles of marginalized people.” —School Library Journal

“This collection should speak to any child or adult—especially BIPOC children and adults—who has been affected by systemic racism and inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. . . . An anthology filled with abiding inspirational messages of self-love and love for others.” —Shelf Awareness

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