A Taste of Colored Water

What does colored water taste like?  If it’s red, might we suspect that it’s cherry or strawberry?  Purple?  Grape.  Yellow?  Lemonade perhaps.  Well, when Abbey Finch tells cousins Lulu and Jelly that there is a colored water fountain in the city, their imaginations run wild trying to figure out what colored water must look like and taste like.  They can’t help but wonder why they don’t have bubblers (that’s what we call fountains in Wisconsin!) that dispense colored water.  When they get a chance to go with Uncle Jack into the city and see these special fountains for themselves, they find themselves amid civil unrest.  What will they discover and what will they learn?

Coming at an issue using a reverse-discrimination twist in his treasure A Taste of Colored Water, author Matt Faulkner addresses the 1960’s civil rights movement with grace and finesse.  Weave this book into your MLK, Jr. celebration or February’s Black History Month. Try this - invite only a certain group of kids to meet you at the carpet for the story.  Say, "Only blue eyed children get to hear the book today," and see what transpires. Today’s learners may find it difficult to imagine a time when segregation existed at all, must less for something as basic as a drink of water or a seat on the bus.  Use the story as a springboard for a discussion about rights, privileges, and justice.

With online dictionaries in the computer lab, students can look up, define and explain words like colored, segregation, discrimination, acceptance, open-mindedness and tolerance, then discuss the Civil Rights Movement.  Be ready for some interesting observations and inquiries. As a follow-up discussion, have students share about a time when they were excluded from something.  Ask them to thoroughly explore why they were left out as well as what that experience was like when it happened.  They can also reflect on how it felt.  Finally, go on a scavenger hunt in the library to find other books with a similar theme. (NOTE:  Ron's Big Mission by Corinne Naden is also worth checking out!)

What's your favorite January pick?  Is it themed around Resolutions, Chinese New Year, MLK Day, Penguins or Snowmen?  Why not link it up over at Learning With Mrs. Parker.


  1. Good Morning Barbara-Dear!
    I still remember the movie about the teacher and the "blue-eyed" and the "brown eyed" kids. That movie had an effect on me that will reverberate forever. What sad lessons were learned...
    I can't wait to explore this book--as always, thanks for the recommendation!
    Wishing you a joy-filled day!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  2. Wow! Sounds like a powerful story. I love books like that. Thanks for sharing.
    Grade ONEderful

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  4. You certainly have chosen a wonderful book with such a powerful message. I will have to add this to my ever growing collection.

  5. I'll have to check that book out. I usually read Sit-in: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down with my 5th graders in January for MLK day, and then we play the MLK Violent/Non-Violent game from a Marco Guidance Games book I picked up at a conference a few years ago. I follow-up a few lessons later with 16 Years in 16 Seconds and talk about goal-setting, while reinforcing the discrimination issue.

    1. Sit In will be featured in my MLK Jr. Day post! Another keeper for sure! Thanks for visiting!

  6. I don't have this book, I will be off to the book store tomorrow!
    Thanks for sharing this book.
    The Picture Book Teacher's Edition


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