Written by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
This is a beautiful, imaginative book filled with rich imagery and metaphors. It goes through not a storyline, but a girl explaining different hairstyles and why she loves them in really creative ways. It’s full of beautiful, highly positive comparisons and illustrations to match. There’s a part where we see that one time kids at school teased her and that made her feel sad, but we see her teacher’s explanation of why she should be proud of her hair and what it shows about where she came from. The book does a good job of not just stating that all hairstyles are beautiful, which is a good message, but goes beyond that to build kids’ confidence in more than their outward appearance: showing how the function of her hair is fun and brings her confidence because of what it allows her to do with her own body and tying it back to her heritage. Praising and appreciating the function and not just appearance of girls’ bodies is one of the most effective ways to help them build confidence in themselves and not fall into the trap of self-objectification.
During the reading:
- Help your child to empathize with the main character at the beginning of the book when she talks about her mom brushing her hair each night – do you have a similar routine you can talk about? Ask them about what happens when they have tangled hair and you try to brush it out. They probably have also felt that pain before and asked you to stop brushing, and so this can help to build some trust in the main character and relate to her.
- The imagery at the beginning can also be a good opportunity for some positive physical contact – you can touch your child’s forehead and hair as you read about the main character’s mom putting coconut oil in her hair and slowly combing it back, and touch your child’s hands to your thighs when you read about her leaning on her mom’s thighs like pillows.
- You can talk about what sorts of things (maybe physical features or abilities) your child has that show where they came from. Talk about how certain things are like you and their grandparents, or what countries your ancestors are from. Build those connections with your child’s heritage so that they have a really rich, positive sense of identity.
- When it says, “my head felt heavy and I let it hang down low” after the kids at school teased her, ask your child how they think she felt. Help them to understand how to interpret that and to practice some perspective taking to see that she was sad, and how it was not okay of those kids to tease her.
- You can ask your child what things they love about themselves, and apply the same principle the book does of praising the function of their bodies and abilities.
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Have you tried any of these ideas? Comment below to share how they worked for your family!