Hunkered down this summer with three young children in the thick of a pandemic, Raquel Algarin ‘17 was looking for some quiet time.
“Just like all the other parents in America and around the world, I was looking for something for my kids to do so they wouldn’t drive me crazy all day,” she said. “I went out to find coloring books that represented them, and there aren’t many coloring books for kids of mixed races.”
Algarin is Black and Latina, and her husband is Black and Irish.
“You may find a coloring book with a Black kid here and there, but my kids are all different races,” she said. “So, I was like, I should make them a coloring book.”
That’s when she came up with “Color for the Culture: A Coloring Book,” 49 pages of drawings featuring her children Zoe, Cole and August, as well as children of relatives and those of neighbors and friends. A note inside from Algarin reads, “This coloring book is created for all the beautiful babies without mainstream media representation.”
“A lot of parents are saying, ‘We finally have a book for our kids,’” said Algarin. “It’s not just having a child of color in the book, you also have to pay attention to their features and their hairstyles because the book is black and white.” Some of the children depicted have braids or naturally curly hair. Algarin drew background designs on each page that fit the children’s interests or personalities, such as flowers or a Spider-Man spider web.
Using an iPad and the Procreate app, Algarin made the drawings from photographs. Each is preceded by a mostly blank page with the featured child’s name at the bottom. If a kid wants to use markers or paints, they won’t bleed through onto the next design. The book also has word puzzles in the back, with space to draw.
“The puzzles all have uplifting words for the kids,” Algarin said, including “trust,” “freedom” and “joy.”
Her daughter Zoe thinks her mom’s coloring book is super cool.
“She’s on the phone with her teacher and she’s like, ‘My mommy made a book. Did you get my mommy’s book?”
See more of Algarin's art here.