Values: Inclusivity, Pride, Positivity, Equality,
This book is a fun, vibrant tale of a little girl on the way to the hairdressers. She has to decide how to have her hair styled before a big celebration - her birthday! - and looks to all of the people around her for inspiration. It is a great celebration of black culture, black hair and black community. What I love most about this book is it is so relatable for so many children who may not have seen themselves or their families represented in books until now. The closing page of the book shows all of the different ways people choose to wear their hair, but our main character chooses to celebrate her natural afro. It is not a coincidence that I have chosen to write this review on #WorldAfroDay and it is great that My Hair is being celebrated in schools, homes and libraries as we speak!
The Value that springs to mind most is inclusivity. I haven't yet read this to a class, but know that all children would enjoy the playful story written in rhyme. More importantly though, Hannah Lee opens up classroom and home conversations about hair styling and choices within the black community. So many children in our classrooms would love to have these conversations with their teachers and peers about their own hair and what it means to them.
Another Value that is at the forefront of this book is pride. The whole picture book is centred around celebrating black culture and being proud of the way all children look and the way their families and communities look too. It also enables discussion around terminology that some children may be familiar with, "bantu knots" and others may not. It gives all children the chance to be the expert in the room and share their knowledge and experiences with each other.
Following on from this, the colourful illustrations and playful poetry lends itself to a circle time or dinner-table conversation around positivity. What part of your appearance do you feel positive about? What makes you feel this way? What aspect of your community do you appreciate? What is it about your family that is so special? I like the way Hannah shows the way the adults and children in the book are enjoying celebrating their hair and are talking about it together. It is uniting the people in the book. Equally, I think it is important to see that both boys and girls are having their hair styled and both men and women are the hairdressers. There are so many positive images in this book to explore with children.
The single most important reason this book will always be on my Values bookshelf is so that all children can see themselves represented in the books they read at home and at school. Hannah Lee wrote My Hair having grown up in London, and although she was an avid reader, she felt books did not always depict her background or cultural heritage. She wanted to change that for children of today and I can tell this book will do exactly that as it makes its way into more homes and schools.
Buy your own copy of this book at national bookshops or borrow it from your local library. You can find it on Amazon too. You can also follow Hannah on Twitter: @hannahleewrites
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