The Skin I’m In, by Sharon G. Flake, is an older young adult title with a message of self-acceptance that very much resonates today. Maleeka thinks she’s too dark-skinned, her clothes are homemade-looking and falling apart, and she also happens to be the ”tallest and skinniest” thing you have ever seen. These outer features are all anyone notices, and she is made fun of and treated poorly by both her friends and the other kids at school. No one notices her great memory or her amazing math skills or what she reads. The only thing they notice is her appearance, and they aren’t too impressed with that.
When a new teacher comes to school, Maleeka has trouble not staring at this tall, fat teacher with a man’s name. In addition to all this, Miss Saunders also has vitiligo, a skin condition that causes the loss of skin color in blotches. This causes her to have a large white mark across her face. This tough-talking teacher does not let the taunts and snickers of the students bother her. Throughout the book, Maleeka struggles to be tough like this and accept herself for who she is.
To find more books that celebrate self-acceptance, please visit the Free Library of Philadelphia in person or explore and request materials through the online catalog here.
Liz Kenny is the school-age and outreach coordinator for the Free Library of Philadelphia.
I Don’t Want to Be a Frog
By Dev Petty, illustrated by Mike Boldt
The Garden of my Imaan
By Farhana Zia
Peachtree 230 pages.
The Skin I’m In
By Sharon G. Flake
Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children 171 pages.