Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship

Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship


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Two poets, one white and one black, explore race and childhood in this must-have collection tailored to provoke thought and conversation.

How can Irene and Charles work together on their fifth grade poetry project? They don't know each other . . . and they're not sure they want to. Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, use this fictional setup to delve into different experiences of race in a relatable way, exploring such topics as hair, hobbies, and family dinners. Accompanied by artwork from acclaimed illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko (of The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage), this remarkable collaboration invites readers of all ages to join the dialogue by putting their own words to their experiences.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781512404425
Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/01/2018
Pages: 40
Sales rank: 99,067
Product dimensions: 7.20(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Irene Latham is the author of more than a dozen current and forthcoming works of poetry, fiction, and picture books, including Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship (co-written with Charles Waters). Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, she became obsessed with octopuses after reading The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. Just like Agnes, she enjoys sending—and receiving—postcards. Visit her at

Charles Waters is a children's poet, actor, and author. His poems have appeared in various anthologies including: One Minute Till Bedtime and The National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry. Charles performs his one-person show as well as conducts poetry performance and writing workshops for elementary and middle school audiences. He lives in New York City.

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Can I Touch Your Hair?: Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was positively gorgeous and I love the story behind it, too. Gorgeous and amazing for any aged reader. Glad to have this in my high school classroom.
TheBestBooks More than 1 year ago
To any teachers, here is my personal review of this book from a educators professional view: My personal response to this book as a future teacher is that it is a fantastic book for children. This book has many different great aspects that all work together to make the book wonderful. The most important thing that I found in this book to be very well done is how it brings up racial issues. The book goes above and beyond on how it breaks up race and explains it in a great way to children. I find it wonderful that the book makes sure to talk about how no matter how someone looks on the outside that it is what’s on the inside that counts. And that we are all more alike than we may think. In the end of the book there is an amazing end note that the students leave for the teacher when turning in their poems that expresses how everyone should be taken as an induvial. The authors write, “Now we see each other as individuals- vegans, horseback riders, readers. We share hurts like being left out at recess and getting into trouble with our parents… Now we listen, we ask questions. We are so much more than black and white.” (Latham and Waters 36). This is a great way to wrap up on the book to show how unique each person is. Another great aspect that is showcased in this book is the use illustrations. The illustrations in a children’s book are very important since it is what engages children to continue to read. With this book each page has a beautiful illustration that goes along well with the text and expands on what the reader has read. After reading through this book a few times I have decided that this book would be a great addition to any classroom. There is without a doubt in my mind that I could use this book for an endless amount of classroom activates and use it as a great tool for learning. I would defiantly recommend this book to a student. One of the major things I look for in a book for children is diversity. No person should have to look for a book that has someone like them in it. All children should be able to pick up a book and be able to have a personal connection with it. In this book I feel like any student would be able to pick it up and be able to identify with some part of it. Another thing I look for in a book I recommend to someone is that they can learn something from it. This book works great for that as it makes sure that so many different opinions are represented making sure that the reader will grow and learn from the book. With this book it checks off all of the boxes and would be a great addition to a classroom.