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Can I Touch Your Hair?

A conversation

Irene Latham Charles Waters

A powerful story told through linked poems which raise questions of race and identity in an honest and tangible way for younger readers.

How can Irene and Charles work together on their classroom 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, this remarkable collaboration invites readers of all ages to join the dialogue by putting their own words to their experiences.

  • Publication date: October 3, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786077370
  • RRP: £7.99
  • Pages: 48
  • Publication date: July 17, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786077387
  • RRP: £3.99
  • Pages: 48


‘A unique, poetic approach to discussing race through the eyes of two children… Each poem has a simplicity and honesty that reflects the reality of so many children, illustrating their similarities and differences with sensitivity and thoughtfulness without shirking the big issues… exudes truth and reality throughout.’

School Librarian

‘The poems delicately demonstrate the complexity of identity and the power of communication to build friendships.’

Publishers Weekly

‘A compelling portrait of two youngsters dancing delicately through a racial minefield.'

J. Patrick Lewis, former US Children's Poet Laureate

‘These poems explore diversity with refreshing honesty and complexity.’

Janet Wong, author and co-creator of The Poetry Friday Anthology series

'An unusually candid book for pre-YA kids about race and difference, allowing for the possibility of the mistakes (the word is right in the subtitle) but also a hopeful outcome as Irene and Charles find enrichment in their friendship.'

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

'A fresh and heartwarming take on bridging the racial divide.'

Carole Boston Weatherford, author of Voice of Freedom

'This is a story to treasure, and should be in every classroom... The poems are intensely moving, occasionally funny, and often revealing... A superb book.'

Books for Keeps

'A brave and touching portrayal worthy of sharing in classrooms across America.'


'An excellent read-aloud or a launch pad for collaborative classroom writing.'

Horn Book Magazine

Irene Latham

Author page

More books by Irene Latham

Charles Waters

Author page

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