4 children’s books that celebrate Black hair

These empowering reads aren't just fun and beautifully illustrated - they're giving a new generation a head start in loving their locks

Culture

Learning to love yourself and how you look is a challenge most of us are faced with no matter what colour we are. But when you’re Black and growing up without seeing yourself reflected back in the cultural landscape, especially in the books you read, it’s an even bigger obstacle. Recent stats from the Arts Council make grim reading: just 1% of children’s books from 2017 had a Black or minority ethnic (BAME) protagonist. So what’s being done to help? Luckily many children’s publishers are adding more Black authors to their lists in a bid to help the next generation see themselves and love their locks - showing Black hair in all its glory!

Hair Love

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison (Penguin)

If the title sounds familiar it may be because it’s based on the Oscar winning short film of the same name. Loved by so many, this story is a love letter to natural Afro hair - and a beautiful portrait of the father-daughter bond. Young Zuri is proud of her hair, even though it has a mind of its own. It’s dad’s turn to style up her strands while mum isn’t around, so what will he do with her kinks, coils and curls? A tender, relatable and powerful book.

Penny and the Magic Puffballss

Penny and the Magic Puffballs by Alonda Williams, illustrated by Tyrus Goshay (Glori Publications)

Let’s face it, who doesn’t think a story about fantastical puffballs is worth a read? This magical series of has been described as ‘an empowering tonic for young girls’. Penny is our hero and is self-conscious about her hair, but when her mother styles them into big, gorgeous puffballs she’s transformed. The story came about after the author Alonda Williams started telling her own bedtime tales after her daughter questioned why her hair was different from other girls she knew.

I Love My Hair

I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illustrated by E.B Lewis (Little, Brown)

Every night Keyana’s mother combs her hair and tells her how lucky she is because of the ability to wear it however she likes. The story takes a fantastical turn with glorious drawings of imaginative styles. Keyana’s mum tells her about the “rows of braids along your scalp, the way we plant seeds in our garden” alongside reassuring and historically important messages about Afro hair.

Kechi's Hair Goes Every Which Way

Daddy Do My Hair? Kechi’s Hair Goes Every Which Way by Tola Okogwu, illustrated by Naomi Wright (Florence Elizabeth Publishing)

Part of the ‘Daddy Do My Hair series, which celebrates the relationship between fathers and daughters, this story discovers what happens to young Kechi’s hair when mum’s not around. It’s fun and wonderfully illustrated, giving young girls with beautiful curly hair a chance to see themselves reflected back. Written by journalist Tola Okogwu, the books were inspired by her own family and set out to bust some of the myths and preconceptions around race and gender roles within parenting.

Feature image by @lailas_luggage

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