This is a review of A World for Me and You, written by Uju Asika and Illustrated by Jennie Poh.
I grew up for the majority of my childhood not thinking about my race. It wasn’t until I was 8 and moved to North London, from what was then a rather sleepy and leafy Luton, that I was educated on the different races that existed, by other children no less. Suddenly, there was great emphasis put on whether I was Caribbean or African (I’m both, FYI) or on me ‘speaking too well’ aka, too white to fit in. Again, this was all said by kids, not the adults.
That’s not to say that my childhood was a host of crappy experiences! I grew up immersed in a mixture of races, religions, and cultures. I loved living in London surrounded by so many different people from all around the world.
My kids may live in a more accepting time, but they also live in a much more homogenous place. You’re not met with the width and breadth of cultures, socio-economic groups, religions or races in the quiet Hertfordshire village they’re growing up in. My eldest was the only Black child in her primary school and 8 years on, we find my youngest in the same boat. “Difference” doesn’t feel particularly accepted. But more something that is whispered about behind closed doors by parents who were embarrassed at the way their kids pointed at someone else the day before and are keen to look more woke and liberal the next time round.
All of this to say, I never realised I could benefit from a book so much as I did reading A Word for Me and You by Uju Asika and Jennie Poh. Every page was a conversation starter. Every page gave me flashbacks to real-world examples I could draw on about diversity or the lack of inclusion. They also provided the jumping point for really insightful glances into the thoughts and feelings of my five year old daughter. Through the vibrant illustrations and wonderfully thought-out words, you are able to jump start some incredible conversations with your little ones.
The book explains in very simple terms, how boring the world would be if we were all the same and how we should celebrate our differences because every single one of us is different in some way. Regardless of if it is our weight, height, skin colour, or sexuality, these differences should be celebrated. I loved seeing the range of family units, skin tones visible disabilities and cultures on display in the book. I’d expect nothing else from the author, Uju, who also wrote “Bringing Up Race” a book aimed at parents and those who come into contact with children. Uju has two sons of her own and wrote candidly about both her personal experiences of bringing up her Black sons in London as well as sharing the experiences of other parents from many different walks of life.
Never have I read a book that included references to okra soup, sauerkraut and Yorkshire puddings within pages of each other. I want more! More of these books on my shelves please. And more opportunities to show children how amazing this world can be when we are accepting and celebrate what makes us all so special and unique.
A World for Me and You is a beautifully illustrated book. It is a perfect way to start discussing the topics of inclusion, kindness and diversity with your children from a very young age. I won’t say what age is a good age to start discussing these topics. But I’d say it is younger than whatever you’re probably thinking. If they’re old enough to be read to, they’re old enough to have this book read to them!
@tinuke292 Add this to your kids’ bookshelves #booktok #diversity #blackauthor ♬ Colors – Stella Jang