I want to tell you, dear parents who scan the newsfeed, dear sweethearts of the world—you teachers who already know that in your classroom, the grownup lines are redrawn, my kids who know friendship and faith and friendliness across the board, they are not the “onlies”. There are others, others like the authors and photographers of Beautiful Rainbow World, who obviously, intentionally care about teaching love in the full spectrum of color.
Our kids, the readers and thinkers, players of make believe, the scientists, and lovers of nature, will recognize different as something the opportunity to grow and become friends, to recognize the truth that we are different and yet, some kinds of “same”.
Cue the pretty book:
I appreciate the work that Suzee Ramirez and Lynne Raspet, sisters, have partaken in, creating Beautiful Rainbow World. The book, itself, is small, but the hearts are focused on big things. They join forces in this project, with folksinger, Daria.
Readers will take-in approximately 44 vivid photographs of children and young people, full of color and spirit. The diversity of children is of course, lush, as expected. The couple black and white images that may be my favorite.
One feeling that keeps tugging at me is the want to know more about the children, in terms of “rainbowness”. Perhaps this child is Armenian and Greek? Perhaps this boy is from Uruguay, and was adopted by an Irish-American family? And these children implying sitting and gobbling up each other’s company with wide smiles— are they cousins? American, yet from many different parts of the globe?
Instead of just hearing (from the included melodic download of the book’s namesake) that we are a beautiful rainbow world, I would love the authors to delve deeper, especially as the term “rainbow” can be overused and therefor, a bit cliche. I wanted them to us the fullness of their own experiences to show us who these children are and why the word “rainbow” applies.
And yet, I also wondered if being somewhat elusive was their intended angle; do they want us simply to see beauty, innocence, and wonder? Are we simply to see pictures of children and not need to label according to background, language, ancestry, place of worship, or citizenship? Perhaps simply looking at clear, bright faces is most honoring. Maybe it is a welcome break to walk away from the defining labels on our crayons.
And yet, the writer part of me asks, “Can we at least know their interests, though? Give our own young readers something more of a hook? A shared interest of soccer? Or new vocabulary? Maybe the Portuguese word that describes Maria’s hair and the way it bounces softly when she runs in the school yard, or the word that describes the shine in the mesmerizing eyes belonging to the girl on the book’s cover?”
Well…after a generous, thoughtful interchange between me and these authors, photographers, and even Daria, the enigmatic, highly-acclaimed folksinger on this project, I am so grateful to understand more of where these creators are coming from. The unspoken information, the words not in print do not necessarily need to be there if we believe every child is just so awesome and incredible as they are, with no backup or background knowledge. Everything is fine on its own, understated.
Perhaps the authors will provide some minor compendium later. Or imagine if they return to the subjects and take their portraits in a few years. What beauty will we see. I hope only glowy, healthy faces, loved and supported.
The project continues to grow on me. And yet, I am a words-person (obviously). Learning more about Daria and her acclaim, scanning through her song index only makes me want to know and hear more. Of course, we want more of the things we like. I will always want another spoonful of buttery pasta or ask for two flavors of ice cream. Within this context, I want my own Japanese and international, bicultural, sometimes trilingual students to identify and recognize themselves, recognize light.
I want my former students back in Lake Worth Florida, the ones whose mamas carry babies on their back with Guatemalan rainbow carriers, and the sweeties calling to their daddies with French Creole and Patois and Island songs and bit of Bengali I heard from my evening at Rasha’s home, to feel honored and celebrated. I want every child, really, to feel invested in.
This is an inspiring project. Imagine what any of the Rainbow World readers may aspire to do when we see beauty in all these faces and hearts and
I think many of us want more than a rainbow, more than the “red, black, yellow, brown and white” of the lyrics and text. Thing is, sometimes you have to start with the universals. It is the smiles, the gazes, the joy we see on these pictures. Delving into his book and humming the accompanying song, maybe we all will I suddenly crave the smell of tomatillos or maize or black beans and saffron rice. Maybe we’ll peek out from our hats. Maybe we will be ready to bridge a new friendship or discover some new aspect of our bud. Maybe our own kids will be even more able to look on their own diversity and gorgeous heritage with love. Maybe they’ll want us to snap their pictures and make their own book of rainbows.
I will be eager to hear your own feedback. See what you think.
To order from Multicultural Kids, here you go!
Amazon Books also carries it.
With all the wonder of love,