Happy Black History Month! As an educator and a mother it is important to me that my sun sees his reflection in the books that he reads. Many studies have shown that children who see themselves in the books they read, toys they play with and television they watch; have better self-esteem, less behavior problems and higher tests scores. Here are a few books that have black boys as the main character, the books also have positive character themes and teach healthy social skills.
1. Pretty Brown Face by Andrea Davis Pinkney
I love this book because it affirms blackness. It is appropriate for babies up to 3 years old. The brown boy in the book appreciates his curly hair, his african nose and his dark eyes. At the end of the book is a mirror where brown boys can looks at themselves and smile. We cannot forget about the self-esteem of our boys. I also love the fact that it uses the word pretty in relation to a boy. Society teaches boys that the word pretty is effeminate. Words have the power and the meaning we give them. In my opinion handsome and pretty should be used interchangeably regardless of gender. Machismo taught as a cultural norms starts early. Think about that the next time your boy child falls and cries. Do you tell him to suck it up and stop crying? If so, why? Why don’t we teach our suns that it is ok to express their emotions, cry and/or ask for help. Healthy men know how to do these things.
2. Good Night Baby by Cheryl Willis Hudson
The main character of course is a brown boy. The book is appropriate for a baby up to 3 years old. The book takes you through a typical toddler’s day. The book teaches good sleep habits, which I found particularly helpful when I was attempting to sleep train. Check out the trauma that ensued trying to sleep train my child. The book reinforces reading to your child every night which has been shown to improve verbal skills and comprehension.
3. Whose Knees are These? by Jabari Asim
The graphics in this book are outstanding. The images appear 3D. My sun was scared of the pictures at first but now he enjoys them. He hi-fives the protagonist who appears to be waving in the book. This book is appropriate for preschoolers and is a helpful tool for learning body parts. The rhyming aids in making an ordinary day magical. The book also reinforces a positive self-image.
4. Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora
The main character in this book has a carpet fro’ or budding baby locs. As a nappy* hair advocate, this warms my soul. The toddler plays peekaboo and identifies things in his surrounding. This book is for preschoolers and assist with naming objects. Isadora is known for her multicultural books. She is fascinating because she is not a person of color. Isadora was a professional ballet dancer and when she retired (the career span of a professional ballet dancer is short) she became an author. She is also a visual artist. Having lived for 10 years in Africa may have influenced her decisions to tell stories with brown people at the center.
5. So Much! by Trish Cooke
This book is aimed for children 3-7 years old. It is a little lengthy and requires a longer attention span. What is awesome about this book is that it explores the colorful personalities of family members and their relationship with the protagonist. The family is large and the readers gets to meet cousins and grandparents. They all love and dote on the main character. This is what we want for our children; family members who protect and love on them. Lastly, all of the books have one spectacular thing in common. Every family has a loving and involved father included in the family structure. I’ll take that. All day, I will!
What are your children reading?