Dorena Williamson loves a good story. And it’s been her life’s work to tell the story of her Lord through her roles as a mom of four children and a leader in the multicultural church where her husband is the pastor. Now, she’s gotten the opportunity to combine these into a children’s book titled ColorFull: Celebrating the Colors God Gave Us. You’ll want to read below about her vision for the book and how to help children love diversity.
What inspired you to write this book?
The seeds of this story idea came to me a few years ago, and I assumed it might become a blog someday. Then in 2016, both Mattel and American Girl came out with dolls that featured darker skin tones. Having raised three black daughters, I was thrilled that mainstream companies saw the need for more diversity. At the same time, I felt frustrated considering that many Christians still adopt a color blind rhetoric that dismisses our racial uniqueness. A passion grew to help children and adults celebrate how God made us all.
Many people believe young children don't see color. What is your perspective on this?
I offer a different vantage point in ColorFull. From the time they begin to form words, toddlers are taught about colors around them. So why do we adopt "colorblind" rhetoric only around skin color? I think it's an awkward topic many are unaccustomed to conversing about. Unfortunately, the gap left from silence will get filled with harmful philosophies that reinforce bias if we don't intentionally teach God's truth. Racial differences are a visible part of our identity. Colorblindness diminishes the glory of God because he made every person wonderfully (Psa. 139:14). So teaching children to see other people's color as something to celebrate honors the truth that we all are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27)!
What do you hope readers take away from this book?
Because children of color are underrepresented in literature, I hope they feel delight in seeing characters in ColorFull that look like them. I hope the friendship of children across racial lines will be inspiring, and that all children, from the richest dark-skinned tones to the lightest, all know they are uniquely made by God and worthy of celebration. My "bonus" desire is for adults to read ColorFull with the children in their church and at home, so that the message impacts all ages.
How do you encourage adults to talk to kids about race?
As a black family, we affirmed our children as babies and in everyday moments. Applying lotion to their skin, we reminded them that their skin color was beautifully made by God. We were intentional to have books and media that featured diverse characters so our four children had both literary windows and mirrors. ColorFull models how to find teachable moments to reinforce how God made us full of color. Proximity is key as well; if your entire environment is with people that look like you, make changes that shape your kids’ worldview and allow them to experience community with others who are not like them.
This passion has expanded to additional books. Tell us about them.
Book two is ThoughtFull: Discovering The Unique Gifts In All Of Us. The story centers around Ahanu, a Native American boy with Down Syndrome, who models how to be full of kind thoughts toward others. This book was inspired by my nephew Josiah who has taught us so much as a boy with Down Syndrome. ThoughtFull releases August 15.
Book three is GraceFull: Growing A Heart That Cares For Our Neighbors. The story centers around a homeless family, Asian, and Syrian girls who are church friends that learn how God gives us grace to share with others. It releases early 2019.
Grab your copy of ColorFull: Celebrating the Colors God Gave Us here.