News Flash

Library - Highlights

Posted on: February 8, 2021

Promoting Diversity in Reading for Young Children

Hair Love News Flash

One thing you will always hear from librarians is how reading is fundamental. It's one of the staple accomplishments we can make in our early lives to set us on the road for being successful for the rest of our lives and it does so much for us. Inspires us to dream, challenges our thoughts and perceptions, teaches us about the world around us, and more.

As a black man today, I remember growing up without a great deal of books around me that were written with characters that were...well, like me. Or titles that amplified themes of self-identity, self-love, individuality, self-esteem, etc. As I progressed in school, I would be introduced to classics featuring black characters in supporting roles, and then being singled out and asked in front of classmates if I would be offended reading language that would be deemed offensive to people of my race, for in the time period the story took place, racially charged words were part of people's vernacular. Trust, I was not amused having to address these concerns in class as the representative of my entire race. I mean talk about being put on the spot.

Diversity in literature is important because, in some extent, unless you're part of a minority class, you never see the prevalence of how people are treated based on characteristics beyond their control. A great way to help lessen the need to notice our differences and feel something negative, is to have exposure to those who are different at a young age.

Something incredible I stumbled across on YouTube was a news story about two young boys, one black and the other white. They are the best of friends and do everything together. They love each other so much that they see themselves as brothers. They see themselves as so alike that one decided to cut his off, to match the style of his friend and their great idea was they were going to trick their teacher. They were going to walk into class the next day, wearing the same outfit, convinced the teacher would not be able to tell them apart. Of course as adults, their mothers knew that was not going to be enough to trick their teacher, it's the sentiment behind it that's so strong. The idea that the two friends could not see the differences in their skin color being something that made them different. It made me smile and hope that they would be able to hold on to that for the rest of their lives.  Take a look for yourself though...

Before I get even more lost in my prose, I'd simply like to take the time to highlight some great picture books available at your library that are empowering and featuring black characters. Take a look...

Sulwe Book CoverSulwe by Lupita Nyong'o
illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Call Number: E NYONGO

When five-year-old Sulwe's classmates make fun of her dark skin, she tries lightening herself to no avail, but a shooting star's tale of the sisters Night and Day helps her understand there is beauty and worth in every shade.

I Am Enough Book CoverI Am Enough by Grace Byers
pictures by Keturah A. Bobo
Call Number: eAudiobook on Hoopla

This is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another, from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers. Perfect for mothers and daughters, baby showers, and graduation. We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.

Hair Love Book CoverHair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Call Number: E CHERRY

A little girl's daddy steps in to help her arrange her curly, coiling, wild hair into styles that allow her to be her natural, beautiful self.

Black is a Rainbow Color Book CoverBlack is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy
illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Call Number: E JOY

A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on"-- Provided by publisher. Includes historical and cultural notes, song list, and two poems.

Skin Again Book CoverSkin Again by Bell Hooks
illustrated by Chris Raschka
Call Number: E HOOKS

The poetic words of a child implore readers to find out who he really is by looking beyond the skin he's in, and finding their way inside his heart. In their most moving, dramatic, expressive children's book to date, bell hooks and Chris Raschka poignantly reflect the secret desires and needs of every child to be valued and cherished for his mind, his soul, and all he imagines himself to be. Like layers of skin, readers will peel away the pages of this book, and reveal at its heart all that it means to be at once human and humane.

I Believe I Can Book CoverI Believe I Can by Grace Byers
pictures by Keturah A. Bobo
Call Number: eAudiobook on Hoopla

I Believe I Can is an affirmation for boys and girls of every background to love and believe in themselves, from actress and activist Grace Byers. My presence matters in this world. I know I can do anything, if only I believe I can.

Chocolate Me Book CoverChocolate Me! by Taye Diggs
illustrated by Shane Evans
Call Number: eAudiobook on Hoopla

Relates the experiences of a dark-skinned, curly-haired child who wishes he could look more like the lighter-skinned children in his community until his mother helps him realize how wonderful he is inside and out.

Homemade Love Book CoverHomemade Love by Bell Hooks
illustrated by Shane Evans
Call Number: E HOOKS

A girl who is Girlpie to her mama and Honey Bun Chocolate Dewdrop to her daddy savors the warmth and love of her family.

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