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Irene Latham and Charles Waters (The Children's Book Podcast #448)

July 3, 2018



Irene Latham (@Irene_Latham) and Charles Waters (@waterscharles) are the authors of CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR?: POEMS OF RACE, MISTAKES, AND FRIENDSHIP, an powerful and unmistakable work of poetry for children and readers of all ages. This is part one of a two part interview focused on the book. The next episode will feature CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? illustrators Selina Alko and Sean Qualls.




How can Irene and Charles work together on their fifth grade 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 (of The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage), this remarkable collaboration invites readers of all ages to join the dialogue by putting their own words to their experiences.







Irene Latham is an Alabama author of more than a dozen current and forthcoming poetry, fiction and picture books for children and adults, including Leaving Gee's Bend, 2011 ALLA Children's Book of the Year and Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship (with Charles Waters). Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, she also serves as poetry editor for the Birmingham Arts Journal.


You can purchase Irene's books through an independent bookstore HERE.


And find Irene Latham online at 

Charles was born in Philadelphia and raised in the suburbs of Philly in a town called Yeadon. After graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University, he joined several theater touring companies, including, Poetry Alive! where he first experienced the power of poetry.


He developed Poetry Time during his eight years as an actor for Walt Disney World performing in various shows, including, the role of Judge at The American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios.


His poems have appeared in many anthologies including:

- Amazing Places edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins.

- The National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry edited by J. Patrick Lewis.

- The Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems edited by Georgia Heard.

- The Poetry Friday Anthology Series edited by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong.

- One Minute Till Bedtime edited by Kenn Nesbitt. ​


Since 2007 he has been a proud member of the Society of Children's BooksWriters and Illustrators (SCBWI).


You can purchase Charles's books through an independent bookstore HERE.


And find Charles Waters online at






*This post contains affiliate links. Any purchases made through these links will support the costs of maintaining the podcast, webcomic, and other materials associated with this site. 





Thank you, DARSHANA, JARRETT, MIKE, LINK, JENNY SUE, ANITRA, LYNN, AMANDA, RUTH, LARA, JUDI, CORRINA, TERESA, ELAINE, and the van load of others who are coming with me on this journey. You’re welcome to join us. Just visit and pick the support tier that’s right for you. All the hugs and high fives for all of the many, many ways all of out there listening support this show.


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