Marley Davis, creator of #1000BlackGirlBooks, said it best when she told her mother she was, “sick of reading about white boys and dogs.” Let’s face it, most of the popular children’s books on the market fail to offer a picture of black girlhood. But there’s always some light that shines through the cracks. We compiled a list of 8 books every little brown girl should own.
1. Brown Girl, Brown Girl, What Do You See? – By Kisha Mitchell
“Brown Girl, Brown Girl, what do you see…don’t let anyone tell you who you should be! You are destined for greatness, so follow your dreams; this world is so much bigger than it seems.”
This self-published book series offers a brilliant play on the words of the popular children’s book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See. Mitchell seeks to break the barrier of stereotypes that adversely impact the educational experience and unlock opportunities for minorities to pursue their dreams. Mitchell’s series provides an impetus for addressing stereotypes and planting seeds of confidence at an early age, so that little brown girls have a fighting chance to realize their self-worth which will ultimately help them to discover their purpose!
On what inspired the book, Mitchell told us via email:
I was inspired to write the book, Brown Girl, Brown Girl What Do You See? after I started a girl’s mentoring group for my middle school students and I noticed a trend within my 7th grade girls. They weren’t very confident and they tended to lack interpersonal skills to communicate with others due to the insecurities that they had within themselves. My passion for writing this book was furthered even more after I birthed my first daughter. It was my personal mission to instill pride in my daughter from the time she was born. I told her that she was beautiful and that her hair was beautiful and she believed me! All too soon, my effort had been undone at the age of 3 when someone in her pre-school class told her that her brown skin was not beautiful; that child challenged her belief. How could this happen so early!? My family and I were devastated and we went even more into brown is beautiful overload! When I am upset about things, I tend to write. Brown Girl is what I wrote during this time of heartbreak. It was my love letter to my now, two daughters and all of my former brown students, to let them know to love themselves and that their brown skin is amazing.
You can pre-order the book at Browngirlbrowngirl.com.
2. The Adventures of Tume The Tug Boat – By Monique Brown, Illustrated by Denis Proulx
For years Monique Brown worked with children living below the poverty line and some with health disparities. Her countless interactions with such patients who have never traveled outside of their city limits inspired her to create The Adventures of Tume The Tug Boat.
Tume’s Tugboat Adventures invites young readers to “tour” both well-known and less familiar geographic regions alongside an adventurous turtle. A turtle’s ability to live on land and sea, create boundless opportunities, so no area is off limits for exploration. This series created for children between the ages of 3-12, helps readers understand other cultures, develop an appreciation of history, increase curiosity and enhance geographic awareness.
Look out for the launch of this book in September.
3. Big Hair, Don’t Care! – By Crystal Swain-Bates
This book is all about celebrating the beauty of natural hair! Swain-Bates does an exceptional job of describing what makes natural hair unique. She also breaks down a few of the most common hair styles black girls wear: Braids, Twists, and puffs.
4. Sugar Plum Ballerinas – By Whoppi Goldberg
This 6-part book series is perfect for the early to late tween girl. Hard work, obstacles, and determination are the key lessons from this story. The character in the first book of the collection gets plucked from the comfort of her Georgia town when she and her mom move to Harlem. She’s not keen on ballet. She’d rather be a speed skater. But her mother insists she dances. She soon learns the importance of ballet and figures out how to give it her all.
This book does well for girls in grades 2-4.
5. I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl – By Betty K. Bynum
There’s definitely more to life than looking “pretty,” but in a world where little black girls are made to feel inferior in that regard, books like this are necessary and affirming. In I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl! Mia, the main character, wakes up with disheveled hair. But that doesn’t stop her from celebrating herself and other little black girls who are all shades of brown and with different hair textures.
6. Zora and Me – By Victoria Bond & T.R. Simon
If you’re a fan of Zora Neale Hurston, you’ll love the fictional depiction of the literary powerhouse as a young adventurous, storytelling tween. Authors Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon teamed up to create this magical story of the famed author that reads as not only a tribute to her greatness, but as a blueprint for other little brown girls to bravely honor their imaginations.
7. Daddy’s Little Princess, By Todd Taylor & Morgan E. Taylor
If the little girl in your life is like countless other little girls who love to feel like a princess, reinforcing the idea of the black princess could strengthen that belief. Morgan Taylor and her father Todd Taylor are looking to do just that with their recently released self published book, Daddy’s Little Princess. The book tells the story of several real-life African princesses who are proof that despite society’s white washed depiction of royalty, brown girls too can be princesses.
8. I Am Unique! – By Jennifer Vassel
Inspired by her experience with a unique birthmark, I Am Unique author Jennifer Vassel penned this book to encourage children to embrace their differences. This story also serves as a great way to educate children on the unique attributes of others, such as prominent birthmarks, to help combat teasing.