Roll call: who got their first relaxer around 6 years of age? If you’re raising your hand, you’re not alone! I got my first relaxer around that time also. My mother never said natural hair wasn’t beautiful or presentable, but it was always explained that straight hair was just more manageable: easier to wash, easier to style and most importantly, easier to comb. I was never teased too horribly about my hair being “too big” or “too nappy,” but a good dose of self-love is always in order!
If you have little ones who are starting to beg for the flat iron, or if you just want to help build a sense of self-love in a curly-positive home, check out these children’s books!
I Love My Hair!
by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
This is the story of Keyana, a little girl who falls in love with her textured hair. She tells us about her nighttime routine and how her mom uses coconut oil (such a good mom, huh?). The author, Natasha Tarpley, dedicated the book to her mom Marlene who made her hair “a house where dreams live and grow.” How beautiful is that?
Bippity Bop Barbershop
by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
If you want a little somethin’ for your boys, Natasha also wrote this book about the barbershop! Watch Miles as he goes to the shop for his first professional haircut – he’s anxious and squirmy, but his dad is there to ease his nerves.
by Sylviane Diouf
In this book, we’ll travel to West Africa where a young girl named Bintou wishes for long braids with shells and coins instead of her “short and fuzzy” hair. Her grandmother explains that braids are customarily for older and wiser girls, and Bintou must wait. She redoes Bintou’s small cornrows, adding some special decorations as a treat!
by Carolivia Herron
This has been a pretty controversial book. But if you’re down for reclaiming the historically negative word “nappy” (I am!) and can appreciate the written usage of African American Vernacular English (I can!), then this book is A-OK. Brenda is the girl on the cover, and she gets teased by her own family for her sky-high hair. Her grandfather steps in and explains that Brenda was made just the way she was supposed to! And "one nap of her hair is the only perfect circle in nature." Grandpa, for the win!
I Love My Cotton Candy Hair!
by Nicole Updegraff
Sometimes we might struggle with how to describe naturally curly hair to the kiddies. We want to use positive words and phrases to build high self-esteem. Our afros are soft as pillows and fluffy as clouds or, as this book describes, cotton candy! What child doesn’t love cotton candy? So to relate something so scrumptious and fluffy to our natural hair is a good way to build a curl-positive home! In this book, we meet Charlie, a girl who’s honest about the struggles that come with natural hair, but ultimately asserts her love for it.
Happy To Be Nappy
by bell hooks (her name is lower case on purpose)
Distinguished author, cultural critic and feminist bell hooks made her children’s book debut with Happy To Be Nappy in 1999. You’ll read about a group of girls with many different styles of hair that’s "soft like cotton, flower petal billowy soft, full of frizz and fuzz." It’s a book about the joys of getting your hair done and appreciating the many different style we can rock! It’s a story about accepting yourself and others.
The Barber’s Cutting Edge
by Gwendolyn Battle-Levert
Another book for the fellas! Rashaad loves going to the bustling barbershop filled with men and boys of all ages. Mr Bigalow's barbershop is a fun and safe place to talk, play dominoes, read and get a little extra help with homework. In addition to being the best at what he does, Mr. Bigalow is also a friend, role model and as Rashaad puts it, "one cool dude."
This isn’t an exhaustive list, so any suggestions are welcome! I’ve been perusing the interwebs for any children’s books that illustrate boys with big fros or long hair. No such luck yet, so if you know of any, let me know!