Can I Touch Your Hair? by Irene Latham

Can I Touch Your Hair?

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 ...

Details Can I Touch Your Hair?

TitleCan I Touch Your Hair?
Release DateJan 1st, 2018
PublisherCarolrhoda Books (R)
GenrePoetry, Childrens, Picture Books, Nonfiction, Race

Reviews Can I Touch Your Hair?

  • Betsy
    For a long time, maybe as long as children’s books have been published in America, there has been an unspoken understanding amongst white parents that when it comes to race, the less said to children the better. White people are particularly attached to the notion that if you don’t mention race, don’t speak its name, don’t bring it up in any way with kids, then they’ll never notice race on their own and they’ll grow up to become wholl...
  • Gary Anderson
    When students Irene and Charles end up as partners for a poem-writing project, they slowly and bravely begin to explore how the issue of race affects their lives. Irene’s white perspective and Charles’s black perspective are inherent even when they begin by writing about a subject seemingly devoid of racial context—shoes. Their next topic, hair, opens a dialogue that includes the emotional effects of race-based conflicts at school. As the c...
  • Sundry
    Moving, smart, brief book of accessible poetry aimed at kids, but a great read for any age. I didn't realize it was a children's book when I ordered it from the library. So glad I read it.Treat yourself!
  • Beth
    A lovely book that gives a nudge to readers about the need to move gently into uncomfortable conversations rather than avoid them completely.
  • La Coccinelle
    I don't even know how to write this review. I'll probably be called a racist no matter what. The book wants to start a dialogue, though, so here goes:The feeling I get after reading this book as a white person is guilt. Why? I can't quite explain it, but it probably has something to do with the way white people are demonized throughout the text. Apparently, we all hate black people, yet paradoxically want to be them at the same time. If we braid ...
  • Prince William Public Library System
    I love, love, love this book of poetry. I initially picked it up because I love books that talk about manners regarding things we may not always think about. When it comes to manners and etiquette, it is so much more than please/thank you, or which fork to eat salad with. Especially when it comes to race and gender.Latham pairs two poems on similar subjects: one from the perspective of a black boy, and another from a white girl. The poems discuss...
  • Lexie
    I enjoyed this book of poetry very much. I think difficult topics were dealt with gracefully and honestly. I only gave 4 stars rather than 5 because I'm not certain that the language of the poems matches the age of the characters and the age which the collection seems to be marketed to. I love that the message wasn't "we're all the same". Because we aren't, we are all different. But when we get to know one another we can find the things we have i...
  • DaNae
    Straight forward, earnest talk about on issue that, at times, can be difficult to talk of.
  • Christine
    Goodreads app, I am furious with you! Just wrote a very heartfelt review for 45 minutes, only to have it disappear upon posting. Aaarrrggghh!
  • Ellie Labbett
    Quite an original collection of poetry about two children who are paired together for a poetry project. Initially judging each other on the basis of the colour of their skin, Irene and Charles are reluctant to get to know one another. However, a friendship begins to grow as they open up through their poetry writing, gradually realising that their lives are more similar than they first thought, each having rocky home lives and having made regretfu...
  • Elaine
    Could this join Joyful Noise as Newbery winning poetry? Fingers crossed. Latham and Waters write as fifth graders named Irene and Charles who have dialogue and epiphanies about race when they are not voluntarily matched as partners for a poetry project. The poems tackle serious issues -- the N word, Ferguson, White guilt, and a blue-eyed Jesus in a Black church, for example. The creators' statements at the end of the book are as important as the ...
  • Carla Johnson-Hicks
    This book is a tough one for young children. I am not sure if they would understand the concept. I think older primary and junior or intermediate students would understand the messages much better. This is not poetry that rhymes or follows patterns, it is free-style with a serious message. The poems depict situations that the authors have either been involved in or witnessed. It shows that there still are race issues in our society, but there is ...
  • Jordan Henrichs
    Loved the format and message. Some of the poetry didn't feel like poetry to me. But maybe I just don't know poetry.
  • Jeimy
    This is a novel in verse for younger readers features two children from the same classroom and how they see the world around them.
  • Linda
    Irene and Charles tell a story with poetry in their new book, Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship, of a boy’s and a girl’s inner feelings, about self, feelings about each other, universal kid concerns and deeper racial questions. Through sharing parts of those feelings, about what might be termed “safe” subjects, these two kids learn about each other, learn that they have a few common likes and dislikes. Maybe t...
  • Julia
    Has a great premise and lofty goals, but ultimately I didn't feel it achieved them. So many issues were raised, mostly around race, and then not dealt with. This would be a great conversation starter for a class assignment, but as a stand-alone book, I felt a lot of issues needed more nuance, more context, more discussion, just more. Trigger warning for the pages that touch on child abuse, which is brought up matter-of-factly as discipline and no...
  • Christa
    The back of the book summed it up perfectly for me:""Can I Touch Your Hair? is a compelling portrait of two youngsters dancing delicately through a racial minefield.""-J. Patrick Lewis, former US Children's Poet LaureateI also enjoyed it because it was easy to relate to the poetry, from the touching of his hair to praising a blonde hair, blue eyed Jesus in Sunday church service. I can also relate to making friends with white kids at this age in a...
  • Alyx Campbell
    I cannot wait to share this with my colleagues, parents, and students. The poems really resonated with a childs' perspective, and opened the door to some important, albeit potentially uncomfortable conversations about race. I loved that it did not paint either child with a broad stroke of the brush, but gave them each such individuality and character, while still facing challenges that both races face. The poems seemed to be crafted with such car...
  • Maureen Schlosser
    In this important book about opening up to conversations about race, two fifth-grade classmates share their personal experiences while working on a project together. Told in poetic form, we hear from two different viewpoints; one from a white girl, and the other from a black boy. Topics based on current events help shape the relevance of the story. For teaching purposes, this book would work well with an older audience when discussing empathy, ra...
  • Laura G
    I love this book for the topic and the way it approaches it: talking about race from two different points of view. Two kids--one black, one white--find themselves working on a poetry project together. We get to know them, their differing perspectives and experiences, and we follow the growth of their friendship. Such a conversation starter! There is so much here to discuss, and the pairs of poems provide a way in to talk about issues that we too ...
  • Michele
    This book is beautiful and layered. I love that it tackles a complex subject through the eyes and thoughts of children. I don’t feel comfortable reading it to my second graders (it would open up so many questions/discussions that could be heavy/upsetting), but I’m going to read it to my children.
  • Maria Caplin
    This is a book that I want to share and begin conversations. One that will open eyes along with hearts as we discuss race, mistakes and friendships. "Here we are still getting use to each other, sideways glances ...." A door has been opened.
  • Kristi
    I was intrigued by this idea of kids trying to understand race and each other through an alternating-voices novel-in-verse. But I found the poems a little shallow and didactic, and it didn't have a great flow. And I don't really like the illustrations, so that doesn't help.
  • Leonard Kim
    My first Newbery-eligible book of the year, and it's a good one! Hoping 2018 will be a great book year.
  • Lesley Burnap
    Brilliant! Required reading for all classrooms, perhaps grades 3+. A great catalyst for classroom/home conversations about race, differences, culture.
  • Katy
    Simply phenomenal. Accessible for kids with great messages. Really interesting art as well.
  • Brenda Kahn
    This heartfelt and powerful dual narrative belongs in every school and classroom library along with Julius Lester's Let's Talk about Race as conversation starters with our students.
  • Kirsti Call
    A beautiful exploration of race and friendship.
  • N
    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.
  • Bethany Buchanan
    As a child growing up race was unspoken being a pasty white kid, nothing was spoken about, even in school it was always separate even as kids we didn’t cross the imaginary line. I believe this book needs to be read, it needs to be promoted it needs taught. I read it to my 4 year old daughter and she loved it. I got it at the library and it will be added to my wishlist to buy. Read this to your children, read it as an adult it’s such a good bo...