If you were anything like me as a child, books consumed a large part of your day and had an impact on your way of seeing the world.
For years, children of color read books devoid of children of color; their worldview is shaped by images and words that did not represent them. They sat next to their white classmates who saw themselves in stories and books every day, these books shaping their worldview.
Not any more.
Today’s kids have wonderful books available to them in which they can see themselves and a variety of other kinds of people. Through these diverse books, characters and experiences, kids can relate, see themselves in a variety of ways and experience people and places they may not have had access to without those books.
We are so thrilled these books exist, and we want to highlight them, especially the ones honoring black boys' and girls' natural hair!
I Love My Hair
One of the older books on this topic is called I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, published in 2003. This book is about a little girl named Keyana who hates getting her hair combed. To make the process less painful, Keyana’s mom tells her about wonderful hairstyles. This is a beautiful story about a mother and daughter bonding over beautiful hair and stories. It is illustrated by E. B.Lewis with gorgeous watercolors. This is a picture book for ages 2-4. It was named A Black Caucus American Library Association Top Recommended Book.
Bippity Bop Barbershop
This book is also by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, and Keyana makes an appearance in this one, but this is mostly about a boy named Miles and his dad. Miles is getting his first haircut. Bippity-be-bop-bop is the sound of the father knocking on Miles's door at the beginning of the book introducing the jazzy beats of the story. This book is also illustrated by E.B. Lewis in the same watercolor style.
Tarpley lives in Chicago and is the co-founder, along with her mother, of Voonderbar! an independent multicultural children’s media company.
Big Hair, I Don’t Care
We all need a reminder that it is ok to be different and that is exactly what Crystal Swain-Bates’s book Big Hair, I Don’t Care does. The main character Lola has very big hair, bigger than everyone else’s, but she doesn’t care. She loves her hair and tells everyone about it.
Crystal Swain-Bates is “on a mission to positively reshape the way children of color all over the world see themselves.” And to achieve this mission she has started her own publishing company, Goldest Karat Publishing and through it published 12 books featuring children of color. Before becoming an author and entrepreneur, she worked for the CIA!!!
Happy Hair illustrated Mechal Renee Roe was published in 2019. This book has beautiful illustrations featuring girls in braids, pom-poms puffs, blowouts and a variety of other hairstyles. Each picture is accompanied by an upbeat positive message of self-love and love for your hair! Mechal Renee Roe is a New York Times bestselling illustrator for the book Superheroes are Everywhere written by Senator Kamala Harris.
Penny and the Magic Puffballs
Penny and the Magic Puffballs is a 2013 two-part series about Penny who wanted so badly to wear her hair long like the other girls. To help her appreciate her own hair, her mother styles it into magic puffballs. Readers can join Penny for tons of adventures as she learns the magic and the power of her puffballs. Author Alonda Williams is a parent and a marketing executive for a Fortune 500 company in Seattle, Washington. Penny and the Magic Puffballs started out as a bedtime story for her own children.