Karen Theunissen: Celebrating that we can all look different and be one family
"It matters not what colour skin you've got. It matters not what kind of hair you've got."
That's the theme running through Karen Theunissen's newly published children's book I Have Brown Skin and Curly Hair.
The author tells Refiloe Mpakanyane why it was important for her to let children know, particularly her own, that you don't all have to look the same to be part of one family.
Theunissen's four kids range in age from three to ten and she'd been shocked by comments made about her one daughter's comparatively light skin.
The writer says she doesn't want others to imprint a skewed idea onto her children, of who they are.
I'm glad that at five years old, my daughter understands that it matters not. She can go into the world and be proud of how she looks. Each one of them... even though they look different from one another, can be proud of who they are, how they look because their parents have given them a sense of where they come from, who they are.Karen Theunissen, Author
The aim of the book is to create a child-friendly basis or foundation where parents can start to discuss issues of diversity with their kids because they don't need to have the hard stuff first. They don't need to have the harder topics around disparities and discrimination - they just need to know why everyone's different...Karen Theunissen, Author
... and all of those things that happened in our country... have resulted in coming to one person, and that's me! I'm part of the story of this nation!Karen Theunissen, Author
Literary journalist Karabo Kgoleng also weighs in with her enjoyment of I Have Brown Skin and Curly Hair.
Apart from the fact that the rhymes are just so delicious... what I enjoyed reading it as an adult as well is the subtext, that it's not belaboring the obvious, but that we have multiple heritage in South Africa that historically has been problematised.Karabo Kgoleng, Literary journalist
What Karen has done is to recolour it (to use that word purposefully) in a way that shows the richness of our heritage without bringing in the muck that comes with the ways in which we talk about it.Karabo Kgoleng, Literary journalist
The book's been chosen to feature in this year’s Exclusive Books Homebru campaign.
Theunissen is working on a number of other titles focusing on the topic of race and language.
Hear more from the author on Weekend Breakfast with Refiloe Mpakanyane:
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