#BlackIsBeautiful: Books that Boost Blackness to Children

To be Black is to embody diversity in lived experiences, culture, skin tones and hair textures. Blackness is an awareness of differences in treatment based on beauty standards that have historically ignored the range of shades and coils of Black people. The following U.S. titles celebrate and honor Black people and teach young children (ages 2-8) of all hues that Black is indeed beautiful:

Shades of Black-A Celebration of Our Children- by Sandra L. Pinkney, photographs by Myles C. Pinkney

2000

  • ISBN-10 : 0439802512
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0439802512

This title highlights and celebrates the diversity of hues, hair types and features of Black children through portraits and metaphors-from “black licorice” to “vanilla cream” skin tones. The repetitive refrain of “I am Black, I am unique” reaffirms the concept that black is beautiful through various presentations of “Blackness.”

Hardcover Shades of Black : A Celebration of Our Children Book

My People- by Langston Hughes, photographs by Charles R. Smith, Jr.

2009

  • ISBN-10 : 1416935401
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1416935407

The natural beauty of Black people is evident in the faces, eyes and their essence as illustrated by the photography of Charles R. Smith, Jr.  Sepia-toned images of smiling Black people of all ages and skin tones illuminate Langston Hughes’ poem.

My Hair- by Hannah Lee, illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan

2019

  • ISBN-10 : 0571346863
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0571346868

Braids, waves, locks, or a fade are all ways to style hair. What style will the narrator choose to wear for her birthday? The versatility of Black hair is lovingly portrayed in this picture book through the consideration of the many styles worn by family members young and old. It is a tribute to the creative styling options afforded coily hair and an appreciation of one’s crowning glory. 

My Hair is Magic!- by M.L. Marroquin, illustrated by Tonya Engel

2020

  • ISBN-10 : 1624149812
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1624149818

Hair that is big and round and “grows toward the clouds” attracts the attention (and hands) of people curious about curly hair. Sometimes the questions are polite, other times not so much. However, through all the questions and comments, our fearless narrator reminds us all of the beautiful things her hair is and that it is unique, beautiful and free.

I am Tamela Chambers and I am a proud member of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and the chair of Services to Children of African Descent Public Library Sub-committee.

Follow the Black Caucus of the American Library Association:

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This month’s blog is curated by Shauntee Burns-Simpson:

Shauntee Burns-Simpson (MLIS) currently serves as the 2020-2022 President of BCALA. She is the Associate Director of School Outreach for The New York Public Library. An ambassador for libraries and Youth Librarian, President Burns-Simpson enjoys connecting people to the public library and its resources. She works closely with at-risk teens and fosters a love of reading & learning with her innovative programs. In addition to leading BCALA, she chairs the American Library Association Office of Diversity, Literacy, & Outreach Services (ODLOS) Committee on Diversity.

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