I’m Like You, You’re Like Me: A Book About Understanding and Appreciating Each Other by Cindy Gainer
I love this book because it approaches diversity in a wonderful, joyful, open way that is perfect for young children. Many times, I pick up on an undertone of anger in books that talk specifically about diversity. Don’t get me wrong: I completely understand why, there is a lot to be angry about! As a woman, I can get awfully fiery in the face of sexism. However, when we’re talking about books for young children, I do feel the subject can be approached while respecting their childhood innocence. I don’t feel they need to know the knitty-gritty darkness of racism, sexism, bigotry, and hate as a toddler (the real world isn’t going anywhere) so this book is exactly what I was looking for! The text is simple, straightforward, and uses plenty of light-hearted examples mixed in with lines about skin color, religion, and even body image! This book touches briefly on so many things that divide the adult world and it jumps up to tell children simply “we are all the same in some ways, we are all different in some ways. Isn’t it wonderful?”
Miki Sakamoto did the illustrations for this book. Her style is bright and simple, but with a lot of attention paid to backgrounds and details. Being a book about diversity, there are children and adults of all colors, however I did notice a few things that slightly bothered me. Page 8 specifically talks about body image and liking how you look-but every child in every illustration is the same height, and same weight/body type. Even on pages where adults are depicted, the adults are all slim, of the same height, and have the exact same body type. I am all about modeling healthiness, and I’m certainly not saying obesity should be encouraged (because it is a disease and it is not healthy), but healthy does come in many shapes and sizes. For a book that touches on that subject of bodies being different, that could have been better addressed. People look different. That means more than using a different colored pencil for the skin. Also, speaking of color, YES different ethnicities are represented. However, there is only one page without a white child on it. In every other illustration, the white children are literally the center focus of the page. They are depicted higher up on the page in every image, literally in the center of the page, and in actions, they seem to be the main focus while the children of color are “background characters” so to speak. You may see this as picky and “not a big deal” but when there are 40 pages in a book and this is the case on every single page, except one, it makes me think the illustrator forgot what this book is supposed to be about. Practice what you preach!
Overall, I’d give this book 3.5/5 stars.
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