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‘Kids are not Krayons’ to spark positive themes of identity for children

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Teaching kids they’re more than their skin color, Indianapolis writer and mental health therapist George Middleton’s book “Kids are not Krayons” offers a creative and colorful lesson for parents and young readers.

Middleton’s book aims to provide children with positive themes of identity early on by highlighting key points of identity, self-confidence and educating oneself on diversity with whimsical illustrations by Blake Frederick.

“The children’s book is an attempt to be more of a prevention approach,” Middleton said. “A threefold strategy of prevention, mitigation and repair, and the challenge is how do you prevent racism?”

Middleton’s book was primarily designed to be a proactive tool for parents to begin having conversations about identity early on in their child’s developmental stage — which is where one’s identity is most permanently formed, he said.

Although the topic may seem challenging to present to children, inside the pages of “Kids are not Krayons” young readers and their parents will find colorful illustrations, visual imagery and rhyming and repetition rivaling Dr. Seuss.

The main takeaway — being more than one’s race or skin color — is a necessary one, Middleton said. When put in an environment of love and nurturing such as a children’s book, he said that message has a better chance of becoming “embedded in a child’s mindset.”

By introducing that idea earlier on, Middleton said those children may be more secure in their identities by the time they begin socializing.

Headshot of Indianapolis-based mental health therapist and author George Middleton.
George Middleton is the author of the children’s book “Kids are not Krayons.” (Photo provided by George Middleton)

“Everything’s coming at our children before they get the chance to be able to defend themselves,” Middleton said. “Repetition is a very powerful tool. So the book, it repeats the message over and over and over.”

Middleton said he hopes his book will get kids and parents to think critically about the use of words and identity as society tends to be quick to label everything.

“This is just a really chaotic time to be a child,” he said. “I mean, it’s like everybody’s telling them who they are before they get a chance to really figure it out for themselves.”

Although “Kids are not Krayons” is not Middleton’s first piece of published work, it is his first book intended for younger readers. However, Middleton said it felt organic and he had fun with the project.

“I didn’t have to struggle because I knew what the message is,” he said. “I happen to be a musician as well so I do a lot of writing from a creative perspective, and because I knew I wanted to use repetition that has a therapeutic tactic, it was simpler than I thought it was going to be.”

Middleton’s goal for the book was to introduce the idea of identity and discovering who one is without alluding to the ideation of race. In fact, the book steers clear of any mention of race or race-specific language.

“They don’t even have to really discuss race as it pertains to their children; it’s just an enjoyable reading book,” he said. “And it’s all focused on you having a way to be part of the development of your child’s identity and self-esteem.”

Middleton’s book “Kids are not Krayons” is available to purchase in paperback and hard cover on Amazon.

Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-924-5143 or chloegm@indyrecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.

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