Earlier this year I actively began looking for books that feature racial, cultural diversity, as well as positive images of black and mixed race people. I came across the book I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarprley on Amazon. I questioned whether or not it was a good buy. In the past I’ve ordered books from the USA about natural afro hair only to realise it was more look and not much substance. Then on Instagram I spotted a pic and comment from Naturally Cimone, so I thought I’d give it a try. I finally bought my copy last week at The Black Baby Show from My Book Basket. I need not have worried, I Love My Hair is an outstanding book that should be on every little curly girl’s bookshelf.
Last Sunday, Hubby and Angelo went out for a dad and son outing. I decided to so something girl with Valentina. First we did a small craft project, decorating her new hair brush. Then I dressed in Tinkerbell fancy dress and we had an indoor picnic followed by story-time.
I selected I Love My Hair to read to her. From the first page she and various points during the story she kept saying “just like me”. It was so sweet that she could identify with the Afro American girl’s hair grooming regime and share in the pain of getting those tangles out. Valentina’s world is still small. She’s with me most of the time, so she is doesn’t have any insecurities or negative hair issues. However, since hearing the story from time to time she chants “I love my hair!” If I’m unable to read the book to her she sits and looks at the pages and ‘reads’. Well, she thinks she’s reading but in fact she’s repeating what she remembers and filling in the blanks with her interpretation of the illustrations.
Out of all the boxes I’ve bought her recently this story has engaged her the most. She enjoys most stories but I Love My Hair has certainly touched a chord with her. I can’t think of any other book that she keeps seeking out. In fact the last time I read it to her at her request, she told “I like this story mummy”. Then she proceeded to share her best bits from the story without me asking.
Valentina’s best bits: She likes when the little girl describes her afro style like a globe and the illustration shows an out of space scene. She is also found of the description of the girl’s hair growing like a forest reaching to the sky. Although Valentina didn’t directly tell me, I know she was impressed that the girl’s mum oiled her scalp like I do for her.
My best bits: I love the true to life illustrations, the poetic way that afro hairstyles are described and the reference to the black power movement.
Author: Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
Illustrator: E. B. Lewis
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company.
I Love My Hair is a picture book suitable for 3 + years. Older children would understand even more of the story. It’s a most have book for every little curly girl but can be enjoyed by children and adults from any racial background. It can be a useful tool introduce aspects of Afro American heritage. I found it endearing that my Afro-Caribbean-Chinese-Italian daughter living in England can see herself in the story. Then again, what is more universal than a little girl learning to love and care for her well-being at the knees of her mother or female carer.