Why are angels so often depicted as exclusively blonde and fair-skinned? Of all symbols, surely angels should reflect the glorious range of human skin tones and features.
photo by Hannah Dunphy, angel by me
The same is true for books about the holiday. From angels to Santa to depictions of the Holy Family, all of our children should be able to see themselves in the images, but I'd be willing to bet that Christmas picture books as a whole are even less diverse than the rest of children's literature. Christmas is celebrated by Christians of all races and ethnicities, as well as by many non-Christians who enjoy its beauty and rituals. Why should a holiday that is observed the world over have an all-white cast?
In December, my friend and fellow blogger Cat, at Mama C and the Boys, linked to this great post, "Christmas Books for Our Multiracial Family", with a fine list of books.
Here's a few I'd add:
Ashley Bryan's brilliantly colored illustrations look like stained glass, with a black Holy Family and multiracial angels.
Canadian painter William Kurelek depicts a series of dream images in which Mary and the Christ Child appear as Huron Indians, as a black family at a soup kitchen, as seal hunters in an igloo, among cowboys, fisherman, and farmers, in box cars, barns and garages.
Gary Soto tells an everyday story of a modern Latino family at Christmas, with deeply colored, expressive illustrations by Ed Martinez.
Barbara Cooney illustrates a lively Aztec version of the Christmas story, complete with cultural details and beautiful brown angels.
If you observe Christmas, and especially it you share the holiday's traditions with children through books, why not spend the next year adding more color to your collection?