This is the month of love, but a lot of people tend to forget that it is also Black History Month. It’s also no secret that I’m of African American descent. However, like most African American children, especially those who are of Caribbean parentage, there is also a mixture of heritages. For example, my great-great-grandmother is from the European country of Portugal and is as white as can be. However, I totally consider myself Caribbean-American, as I like to say. My roots are deeply embedded in the Caribbean, which I genuinely love. I love my chocolate complexion, which I won’t have to tan, and I love my hair.
Whenever I go out with mommy, I usually get a lot of questions about my hair. Most people think that because I’m black, I should have really tightly coiled, kinky hair, and they’re usually surprised when it isn’t. I always get asked, “Can I touch it?’, It’s just hair, maybe slightly different from yours, but it’s all mine, and I LOVE it. I, however, wear extensions, not because I hate my hair but because they protect it. I wear them as a protective style to protect my hair from the elements. So in celebration of Black History Month, I want to share with you a few of my favorite books celebrating African American children.
That’s a picture of me, totally unedited and without a filter. I’m sure if Mommy could edit a smile on there, she would. She says that I don’t smile as much as I could, and I promise I’ll try to do so this year. After all, there is so much for me to do this year, and I just know that it’s all going to be great. I’ve already experienced New York City, and in a very short while I’ll be experiencing London, England. I can’t wait. This, however, isn’t about my year of adventure but about the books I love. So without further ado, here they are.
This is a story of Keyana and her mom, who does their nightly ritual of combing out the tangles in her hair. Just like Keyana, I can sometimes say that it hurts, but Keyana’s mom explains to her that she should be proud of her hair and how lucky she was to have it. There is so much she can do. She can put it in a bun or even braid it into cornrows. Also, like Keyana, I love adding beads to my hair. Oh, the things I can do! This story encourages African American children to feel good about their unique hair and to be proud of their heritage.
Lola has really, really, really big hair – much bigger than the other kids at her school – but that doesn’t stop her from telling anyone who will listen just how much she LOVES her hair! It’s not always easy being a kid. Designed to boost self-esteem and build confidence, this beautifully illustrated picture book is aimed at children who may need a reminder from time to time that it’s okay to look different from the other kids at their school.
This book introduces adorable Mia, who wakes with her hair, just-a-going every which-a-ways! With her abundant energy and joy leading the way, readers follow Mia as she plays with her friends, who are all shades, shapes, and sizes. There’s tall Kia, Keisha, the reader, Charlotte, her best friend, Dina Rose-Marie, the artist, Imani the dancer, Anna who loves sports, Ruby the singer, and honey-haired Tracy. Mia finds that Pretty is within herself and her friends, and being pretty is way beyond what the mirror shows.
Emi is a creative 7-year-old girl with a BIG imagination. In this story, Emi shares a positive message about her Curly, Coily, Cotton Candy Hair, and what she likes most about it. The vibrant illustrations and fun story teach basic natural hair care techniques and tips playfully and memorably.
The boy is teased for looking different than the other kids. His skin is darker, his hair curlier. He tells his mother he wishes he could be more like everyone else. And she helps him to see how beautiful he really, truly is.
I just had to add this book. While it doesn’t have an African American theme, it is written by another African American artist, and this song was such a hit over the summer. I love singing along to the words since the words are the acclaimed hit song. It will bring out the “happy” in you.
While there are lots more books, these were just the few that truly stood out to me. If you’re African American and you have kids wanting to be different, or not embracing their color or hair, these books show that it’s okay to be different. It’s okay to Love The Skin You’re In!