Colour in the African princesses.

My first two African princess colouring pages are now Printables.

I have started work on my STEM Lovin’ Baby-Sitters colouring book.   There will be pages about STEM, baby-sitting and natural hair.  I will be making free printables as I go along starting with natural hair and fancy dress.

Print and colour Jada Kai in her African Princess costume.

 

Fun and empowering colouring books with natural hair for black girls and boys

Fun and empowering colouring books with natural hair for black girls and boys

Here are a few of the colouring books  that I have come across recently that celebrate diversity and feature black characters.

Colouring books can be cheap and cheerful.  However if you want colouring pages with black kids or natural hair then you may have to pay a bit more.  The books I have chosen here are high quality products created by named authors and illustrators.  Some have special features like activity and journalling pages.   All are designed to be empowering.

Oh Boy! by Chiquanda Tilley

This 64 page book is full of boys getting into things like footballs, fireflies and fishing. Cute and cheerful drawings of little dudes will encourage small guys to get the crayons out.  Chiquanda also has a sweet book for girls.

The STEM Colouring and Activity Book by J.D. Wright

It was hard to pick a favourite from this author’s appealing selection of books but I went for the STEM book as it features a multicultural cast of cute girls who cry out to be coloured in.  There are also questions for the child to answer so a very endearing souvenir can be created.  JD Wright has free pages to download on her site showing black kids with cool hairstyles.

Dream Big!  More than a Princess Colouring book by Stephanie Tabashneck

My absolute favourite page in the set of images of girls with big dreams shows a woman strolling barefoot along a beach   She asserts that she wants to be  a mom and will foster, adopt or have her own kids. 

The drawings of multicultural young women doing valuable work   make this a fabulous career guidance book.  Is she can do it so can I!

Colour My Fro; A Natural Hair Coloring book for Big Hair Lovers of all Ages  by Crystal Swain Bates

I’ve blogged about this book before because I just love colouring it in.  Cheerful , gorgeous women with natural hair are shown in a range of activities.   The drawings by Janine Harrington are printed on one side of the paper only and cry out to be framed.  Crystal Swain Bates has many great books.

The Colorful Adventures of Cody & Jay: A Coloring and Activity Book by Crystal Swain Bates 

I was complaining about the shortage of books for boys and author Crystal Swain Bates drew my attention to this fun filled 40 pager.

Cody and Jay are two lads who  love to have fun.  The book has activity pages, drawings to complete and a positive celebratory attitude.  Spaceships and cars feature.

Swift Walker: World Geography Coloring Book: Coloring Books for Kids by Norma Andriani Eka Putri and Verlyn Tarlton

As I mentioned earlier I was complaining about books for boys in Instagram and Plum Street Press drew my attention to Swift Walker – a chirpy little characters who stars in many books for the 4-8 age group.  Swifts loves travel and adventure.  The drawings of Swift with his natural fro and just doing a little bit of work for representation.

 

Write On Girl : A Fun Guided journal for teen girls by Jillian D Bradfield

I have been watching this one on instagram for a while as the author jilleybeanbooks showed off pages and details of the project.   I don’t have a copy yet but I can see from the reviews that as well as having  drawings that girls will adore, the book deals with all the topics facing girls. 

What really caught my eye was the pretty pre-teen saying a prayer and having a chat with God.  I was impressed as a lot of books talk about empowerment without acknowledging spirituality.

Back Home

Bekki the Fairy talks to Obi and Titi

Bekki the Fairy meets Obi and Titi

Headshots little girl fairy and a boy and girl.

Bekki: Hello Obi and Titi. I am Bekki the Fairy. I am delighted to meet you both.

Titi: Wow, so fairies really do exist?! That is so cool!

Obi: Can you fly? I want to see, I want to see! I have a monkey called Mumu and he can talk but he can’t fly, oh!

Girl in pilot uniform
Anyone here who can’t fly?

Titi: Obi, Mumu is no longer your monkey. Remember, he ran off and the talking thing is meant to be a secret.

*Titi rolls her eyes*

Titi: It’s really nice to meet you too Bekki. Please carry on, don’t mind him.

Bekki: Is it true your story happens in Africa in the olden historical days?

Titi: Yes, it’s based in the 15th century in a place called the Benin Kingdom.

Obi: Yes, it was a great empire which is located where present-day Nigeria is.

Bekki: This is a question for Titi. Are you really a princess?

Nigerian girl in a patterned mini dress

Obi: Oh, oh! Now you’re in trouble, fairy girl. She doesn’t like being called a princess, do you Royal Princess Titilayo? Hahaha.

Titi: It’s okay. Yes, I am but I’m no different from anybody else. Obi reminds me of that every day.

 Obi: Yes, I do, oh. In fact, it is my royal duty hehehe…..

Bekki: I come from London but I am a mixture of Nigeria, Ghana, Brazil, Portugal and Scotland. Are you a mixture?

Obi: Nope. I’m pure Obi and she is pure Titi!

A Nigerian girl and boy with their arms crossed like characters from the movie Black Panther
Marvel-ous!

Titi: Don’t mind him, he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Our creator wanted to mix things up a little so he gave me a Yoruba name and Obi is Igbo. Research shows that the Benin Kingdom, at the time, was very mixed as there were so many different groups of people living there from all over.

Bekki: If I did a magic spell to go to Nigeria would I be able to see the hidden Temple of Ogisu?

*Obi laughs *

Obi: Of course not, its hidden and it’s really, really hard to find, but if you grant me a couple of wishes I might show it to you.

Titi: Obi you are so rude! Don’t give him anything. You probably shouldn’t have granted him this interview. He is going to spoil it!

Nigerian boy and girl standing in a forest of lush palm trees - a monkey is hiding in the corner.
Adventure happens whether or not Obi and Titi want it.

Bekki: Who wrote a book about you and why?

Obi: Oh, I know this one. Can I answer? Can I?

Titi: It was Mr O T Begho and he wrote about us and our adventure for two main reasons. One was the lack of black characters in books, educational material, cartoons and games. The second was to give a more factual and positive representation of African history and culture.

Obi: I was gonna say that!

Five book covers are shown with a blank space for a sixth book.
Dive in!

Bekki: Did you like having a pet monkey, Obi?

Obi: No! He is an olè!

Titi: Sorry, that means thief and he isn’t. He is just misunderstood.

Obi: Really? What about when he stole my birthday presents or the time we caught him with a bag full of gold in the temple.

Titi: Err…. maybe we should move to the next question.

Bekki: I do skipping and I like rhyming songs. Have you got any good ones to share with me, please?

Obi: I do.

I once met a fairy,
that said that she could fly,
But when I pushed her off a cliff,
She fell straight down and

Titi: Obi stop it!
*Titi covers his mouth*

Bekki: If you were a toys would you be an action hero, a cuddly plush toy or a paper doll with loads of outfits?

A patterned card with a Nigerian boy running towards the viewer

Titi: We would be action heroes. We really love a good adventure and somehow we’ve become quite good at getting ourselves out of trouble.

*Titi is still covering Obi’s mouth but he nods in agreement. *

Bekki: Will you be in more books?

Obi: Mr Begho has nearly finished book 6 and I think that’s the end of the series. I have big prospects though. I’m going to be in a computer game or even a movie.

Book cover laid flat showing front and back. A boy and girl raise their firsts while a monkey watches them.
Book 6 is nearly ready!

Titi: I want him to continue writing. I have an idea I want to pitch to him but Obi thinks it’s silly. Why just write about the Benin Kingdom? You see, we have this travellers pendant and it’s magical and can take us anywhere, as long as we can find Okuta dust to power it. So, we could travel to other African Kingdoms and continue our adventure there.

Obi: Boring.

Bekki: No, it’s not.  Imagine all the princess dresses you would see!   It has been cool talking to you, Obi and Titi. Can we be friends?

Titi: Yes, of course. I love fairies.
Obi: Nope

Bekki: Shhhh, Obi! I want to tell people about your cool website

Ahem, even though Obi and Titi are in historical books they use the most modern technology. They have games, videos, Mr Begho doing a rap and all sorts of books and things on their website,  I like the photobombs! Come on Titi, let’s have a dance and sing Let it Go.

ENDS

Bekki the Fairy talks to Malcolm and Nia from The Magic Pencil

Bekki the Fairy meets Malcolm and Nia from The Magic Pencil

Bekki the Fairy with Malcolm and Nia
Bekki meets Malcolm and Nia from The Magic Pencil

Bekki: Hello Malcolm, I am Bekki the Fairy from London and it is simply, frightfully splendid to meet you. As you can see I speak like the Queen. Or should I say “Yo, Malcolm, what’s the haps?’

Malcolm: Hello there Bekki! Veddy nice to make your acquaintance.

Bekki: I love the way you talk. The words just slide out! Are you allowed to talk like that in school?

Malcolm: Thanks! Glad you appreciate and unnerstan my usin it. Naw, in school the teachers want us to speak standard English. Sometimes I get away with it if I’m havin a quiet convo with one because they know I know when not to use it! They usually know what I’m sayin too.

A black teen with his hands in his pockets
Don’t try to stress Malcolm, not gonna happen

Bekki: My brother Sam is very good at school but he is not cool. He says things like lickety split and jeepers creepers. Can you please help him to sound more cool?

Malcolm: Probly, but it might take a minute. That means a long time. But it can mean a short time too! A lot of the meanin of a word depends on how it’s said an in what context! An, if you can see the person, you gotta watch the way they move too. You know, understand they body language! Hey, do you see how I mix up the ways I talk together?

Bekki: I come from London but I am a mixture of Nigeria, Ghana, Brazil, Portugal and Scotland. Are you a mixture?

Malcolm: I ain had my DNA done yet, haha. But I think everybody is all a – uh – “mixture”. That sounds better than sayin you “mixed”. Makes it soun like talkin about dogs. Science says we all from Africa, anyway.

Bekki: What kinds of music do you like?

Malcolm: A lot. I got an open mine. You could dig for gold an fine it in there, haha. But I do like a lot of different kinds. That’s anotha thing that’s mixed!

Bekki: Do your relatives from Jamaica like reggae music? Do you?

Malcolm: Mostly. I like it now. I had to get used to it, though. My dad plays it a lot when we ridin together. He plays a lot of the classics and even new stuff.

Bob Marley’s hair looked great on stage

Bekki: What is the best thing about your mum?

Malcolm: Awwww… Moms is great! We have our discrepancies but mostly we cool. She lets me be me as much as possible. And I respect her madly.

Bekki: I have one dad. Is it good having two?

Malcolm: Well, Mom an Jam ain married, yet. But he’s like another dad, and real fun! He got jokes! Dad is basically a standard dad. We cool an all but he don’t play unless it’s wit a soccer ball! Both a them treat me good and I always learn somethin new from em.

Bekki: I go to school in Dagenham where they used to make cars. What’s your favourite car and who is your favourite racing driver?

Malcolm: Right now, I like the Ferrari 488GTB. It got a twin-turbo 3.9-liter V-8 engine and can do 8000 rpm! It’s sweeeeeeeeet! I still like Lewis Hamilton. I like Nicole Lyons too! Bout time I found out about Black female drivers!

Bekki: What do you think of Lewis Hamilton?

Malcolm: He’s a baaaaad Brit brotha! Plus, he’s got a foundation so it makes me know he ain all bout the Benjamins – or whatever they call em where he lives. You know, the money, right?

Lewis Halmilton in leathers on a motorbike
Lewis is not bad, he’s baaaaad

Bekki: Will your mum and dad let you fuse your hair?

Malcolm: Oh, you mean grow locs? Well, I’m not a Rasta – oh, Rastafarian. That’s like a religion thang. They call theirs dreadlocks. I guess they will. Dad wants me to wait til I’m older cuz he thinks Mom won’t like em. But I think she won’t mind.

Bekki: Do you want me to do a magic spell to make your hair as long as your friend Nia’s?

Malcolm: Hahaha! Not really. I think it’ll be fun to let it do its own fusion in its own time!

Bekki: My baby-sitter Ruby saw Beyoncé when she came to London and showed me the video on her phone. Did you see Beyoncé when she sang a reggae song when she was on tour in America?

Beyonce singing and smiling
She’s global- Beyonce in Detroit

Malcolm: Nope. I only seen the videos. She’s done A LOT of reggae stuff! She’s global.

Bekki: I have a question for Nia. Nia, mum won’t let me use my magic wand to do my homework. Do you think that magic is good for homework?

Nia: Not really. It’s kind of cheating, don’t you think? You really won’t learn much more than how to use it better!

Bekki: (changing the subject quickly) I do skipping too. I like the rhyming songs. Have you got any good ones to share with me, please?

Little black girl in school uniform skipping beside a brick wall

Nia: Yep! It’s the kind where you sort of run while you’re jumping. Ms. Quayle, one of my teachers, wrote the rhyme. It’s about a very smart boy named Wyatt. You say the first two parts and jump kind of fast. Then, when you say the third part you go really fast and stomp as you jump. Then you do the same steps for the next three parts. Everyone sings: “Quiet Wyatt! The grow folk say When-I-get-into-their-talking. You’re being smart, Now run and play. I-shake-my-head-as-I-start-walking.”

Bekki: I like rhyming. In London some people use Cockney rhyming slang. It is like a puzzle that you have to work out. So if I say ‘A cup of Rosie’ it means ‘a cup of tea’. Because Rosie Lee rhymes with tea! Can you guess what a syrup is? I’ll give you a clue – it goes on a bald man’s head!*

Malcolm: Uhhhhhhhhh, a stirrup?

Nia: Hmmm. A maple leaf!

Malcolm & Nia (in unison): Who’s right?

Bekki:  Hee hee, nobody is right- a syrup is a wig – it rhymes with syrup of figs.  But most wig shops don’t use that word so don’t make a fool of yourself!

Don’t ask for a syrup in this Brixton shop.

Bekki: If the Pencil Fairy said she would give you whatever pencils you wanted what kind would you ask for? And what would you use them for?

Malcolm: A mechanical one with a never-ending lead and self- regenerating, not-smeary eraser. Plus, I can tell it to make its lead thicker or thinner, darker or lighter and harder or softer! That way I could use it for everything!

Nia: I guess the same thing would work for me. But I’d want mine to also change the lead’s color!

Bekki: My favourite teacher is Miss Treacle because she is kind and funny. She teaches science to my baby-sitters and to my brother, Sam. Who is your favourite teacher and why?

Nia: Oh, I love Ms. Winston. She is the perfect educator! But I also love Mr. Skye. I help him with the kindergarten kids. He is soooo wise and kind.

A drawing of malcolm with his hands in his pockets

Malcolm: Hey Ms. Smarty, you sposed to name only one. I think mine’s Ms. Winston too because she keeps us learning and understands I get bored a lot. But Ms. Kady, the sub, is cool too. She makes things real excitin! I think she’s a chameleon cuz she changes up when she gotstuh!

Nia: You “sposed to name ON-LY one”, boy!

Malcolm: OK. Then I name ME. I teach my self to learn, gurl!

Bekki: Nia, what do you like about Malcolm?

Nia: Malcolm is a great friend; understanding and … loyal.

Close up of the faces of Malcolm and Nia
Nia is never boring…but who is she?

Bekki: And Malcolm what do you like about Nia?

Malcolm: Uh, she’s OK. Hahaha! Fa real, Nia is intriguing; never boring.

Bekki: Who wrote a book about you guys and why?

Malcolm & Nia: (in unison) Ms. Karen E. Dab-ney!

Malcolm: Well, she wants to get kids to read who may not know the fun part of it and she doesn’t think they have to stop talking one way to talk another way.

Nia: She likes to say “Teach and Lead. Reach and Read!” That means a teacher needs to figure out how to encourage children to want to read by figuring out what they need!

Bekki: Will you be in more books?

Malcolm: Oh, yeah. “Play Mom”, that’s what we call Ms. Dabney, is trying to decide what we will be doing next.

Nia: I think she wants to have us save the world! Maybe one book at a time.

Bekki: It has been marvellously, splendid and a’ight talking to you, Malcolm and Nia. Can we be friends?

Malcolm: Call me Malc. An, yeah. You gotta teach us some magical stuff, though.

Nia: Of course, we can, Bekki! Don’t pay any attention to Malcolm. I can tell he likes you! And I do too. 

Bekki:  C’mon, I’ll show you my wand.

Time to See The Books:

Do you want to read about Malcolm and Nia and learn code-switchin to talk like Malc?

Malcolm and Nia appear in the book The Magic Pencil.  Click on the title or pic to see the book on Amazon.  You can look inside the book too!

Drawings of Malcolm and Nia with twinkling stars

And Malcolm is on the cover of a book called The Magic Pencil Black Language Glossary. This cool book will teach you to speak Black English – take all the un-nessry letters out of your words and just flow.  Try it…it might change how you feel about words.  Malcolm will guide you.  Get learnin

Drawing of Malcolm with his hands in his pockets
check this out to learn about conversatin and communicatin – it’s what it’s all about

The Elephant and the King for Multicultural Children’s Book day 2018

Today on my blog I am celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018 by telling you about  a book called The Elephant and the King

Let me tell you the background to MCBD

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.

Book cover showing drawing of two children surrounded by African wild animals
Front cover of The Elephant and the King by Sylvia Medina

My Book

I was given my book by our sponsor Green Kids Club. They create gorgeous colourful picture books to teach children about the planet, its ecosystems and the creatures who live here.    My book is one of a series where two children Maya and Victor drink water from The Green Spring and are granted the ability to talk to animals.

So, are you ready to pay attention?

I am going to:

-tell you what I think about the book

-tell you my idea for an activity to encourage reading 

-tell you about the Twitter party

-tell you where you can go to find more books about our fabulous planet.

My book review

Series:Green Kids Club

Age: 7 upwards

Source: Sylvia M Medina (author)

This colourful book is gentle in tone and charming in its illustrative style.  This means it is able to deliver a tough message without upsetting even a sensitive  child.  Victor and Maya are visiting Botswana and meeting their friend Maatla when Maya asks to see an elephant,

young girl with backpack close up
An innocent request

Maya’s desire to see an elephant worries her friend Maatla as he is aware that the elephants are under attack from  poachers.  The children learn that there are people who will kill an elephant to take the tusks.  Tusks are a unique substance for carving and they are valuable in Asia.  (Woolly mammoths had tusks too and you don’t see many of them about. )

An African boy points at an elephant and a poacher holding a tusk
Weeeell. maybe

Maatla takes the children to look for elephants and, inevitably, drama and excitement follow.  Maya and Victor have magic powers that allow them to help animals and those powers can be shared with.  Maatla is given the same gift and he is stupefied when he can suddenly hear animals speaking.  The ending is a happy one but pages of facts at the back of the book open children’s eyes to an unpleasant situation going on in the world right now.

If you read this book to your children you mighy tell them that public opinion persuaded the Chinese to ban the sale of ivory.  Young eco-warriors need messages of hope.  Despite the poachers’ activities, this book gives a strong sense of that Africa’s animals are precious and valued.  

This is the first and only book I have read from this series.  Animal lovers will find many more on Amazon.

My activity to encourage reading

Remember I said I had an activity?  OK, here is my book gift package idea.

The story about the baby elephant in danger got me thinking.  And when kids start thinking they want to play.  How about hen  you go to Amazon to buy this book head on over to the page where they sell African animals.  It is called Schleich and they have all the animals from The Elephant and the King.

You can act out the exciting scenes where the baby elephant is in danger and the lion and the other animals get involved.

I want to be Maya. You can be a warthog.

The Twitter party?

Join in by typing #ReadYourWorld

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party! http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/twitter-party-great-conversations-fun-prizes-chance-readyourworld-1-27-18/

 

You want more great books – start with great publishers. 

Where? Here!  These guys have sponsored us because they care about Multicultural books enough to publish them.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs GOLD:Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies SILVER:Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal Bowe, Gokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

2018 Author Sponsors Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan Bernardo, Author Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne Broyles, Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and MysticPrincesses.com, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen, Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and MFL Publishing Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham Author Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

Don’t forget the teachers

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teacher-classroom-empathy-kit/

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

 

 

Geeky Mikita – physics genius, baby-sitter and STEMINIST

Geeky  Mikita was very flattered to be invited to do an interview for the STEMINIST website.  

cute cartoon of schoolgirl with afro hair
Brainiac baby-sitter Geeky Mikita

The STEMINIST website interviews women who work in STEM.  If you ever wondered what jobs a girl might do in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths then have  a look at some of the things these women get up to. You are gonna be impressed- and maybe even a little bit envious but inspired too!

Just for example; Melissa works with sharks.  Judith went to Jordan to teach girls about water in their environment, Islin is a “weather junkie” in Alaska and she has very good advice for girls picking a career,

Here is Mikita’s quote about her heroes:

“Stephen Hawking is an impressive multi-tasker and so is Beyonce. Stephen Hawking is a cosmologist as well as a theoretical physicist and Beyonce is a mum as well as a musical genius. They are like me cos I had to babysit and do my homework at the same time.”

You can read her full STEMINIST interview here.

Top 12 best Big Hair books for children

a tiny black girl plays in the hair of a giant black girl
Art from Emi’s Curly, Coily, Cotton Candy Hair

I have always loved long curly hair and as a teenager I used to draw girls with flowing tresses (we did not have he phrase “slayed tresses” in Ireland back then).  My own hair is fine, uber-straight and incapable of holding any kind of curl or kink. So drawing curls was the closest I got. And photographing Barbies for BlackHair magazine.

But not everyone who is capable of curls wears their hair curly.  There are plenty of reasons for that  – which I won’t go into here – but part of it has to do with confidence.

If you think your child might be a naturalista who would like to wear their hair in a natural afro then a book featuring BIG HAIR might guide their journey. When kids are young it’s all about self-image and empowerment.    And that’s where books come in.  Some books are not specifically about hair but feature a character with a natural style. Most are in the 3 and upwards age-range.

So let’s go. Here is a list of the Top 15 best big hair books for children.  

1.Big Hair Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Batesdrawing of a little girl with an afro smiling with her hands in the air
Most of my book choices feature a child of African descent living outside of Africa and therefore surrounded by European hair.  In this book a chirpy little girl faces that situation head on with her poem.

“I’ve got big hair and I don’t care
And even though the kids may stare
I lift my hands up in the air
And smile and say…
I love my hair”

2. Color My Fro by Crystal Swain-Bates

I’m mentioning Crystal Swain-Bates again because she has  made natural hair something of a cause.  Let Amazon guide you to books like Naturally Me, Black Fairy Tales, SuperMommy and many others where the covers depict fabulous fulsome black hair

3.Emi’s Curly Coily, Cotton Candy Hair by Tina Olajide

The artwork by Courtney Bernard is beautiful so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

 

4.Daddy Do My Hair? Beth’s Twists by Tola Okogwu

A black daddy styles his little girl's long curly hair
This book has a sister book called Daddy Do My Hair-Hope’s Braids.  Art is by Rahima Begun. The author does book readings around London and has her very own blog called My Long Hair Journey.

5.Numbers with Bella by Lorraine O’Garro

This book has a Jamaican little girl with Afro puffs on the cover.  On the back cover the same girl in her contemporary clothes is seen slapping away happily on African drums.  As part of the Irish diaspora I appreciate books that make other people feel at home in all the countries they  identify with.  

The companion The Alphabet with Bella has artwork of her taking part in what I think is the Notting Hill Carnival waving her British and Jamaican flags and wearing a glorious feather crown.   Art is by ‎ Katlego Kgabale (Illustrator)

 

6.I Know I Can by Veronica M Chapman

Check out the gorgeous mother in this book with her skinny jeans and natural fro.  There is a sweet picture off the little girl sleeping with her hair in a silk scarf as she dreams of an exiting future visiting the  Paris, Cuba and Africa.  Daveia Odoi is the illustrator.

 
 
Usually in this series Lola wears her hair in cute twists but in this story both mum and Lola go natural.  Rosalind Beardshaw did the art.

a little girl with an afro hairstyle reads to her baby brother who is on her lap

 
 
 
This is my only book with a boy on the cover.  (I’ll fix that when I do  my blog about books with locs and braids).  Mike is always answering questions about being mixed.  He knows he’s perfect because this is what his parents say:
 
Mom and Dad say I’m a blend of dark and light: 
“We mixed you perfectly, and got you just right.”
 

10Happy Hair by Mechal Renee Roe 

Smiling young black girl reading a book
 
There was very little by way of a preview on Amazon so I hopped over to the author’s website –  This small and carefully curated site is a delight , well worth a look.  It has elegant, girlie art, three dancing bunny rabbits, prints for hanging and a colouring book.  And Mechal ships to Europe.
 
My own book has a strong theme of natural hair.  The lead character Bekki the Fairy has a crazy do (don’t ask) but the hairstyle you see most in the book is the loose natural style of Geeky Mikita the genius baby-sitter. 
 
Front cover of A Fairy in the Family Again shows a little girl with a shocked expression.
A Fairy in the Family Again. Click on the pic to buy.
The stylist gave Mikita a grey streak in honour of Albert Einstein.  There is a suggestion that scientists are too busy for nice hair and Bekki offers to fix Mikita’s hair.  This is just Bekki being tactless   – and it’s kind of an in-joke as we’ve worked with this model since she was a little gal with big hair.
 
At the back of the book a real life scientist, Mumbi,  talked about black hair and gave all the baby-sitters hair advice.  There are jobs for female scientists in the hair industry.  Black women entrepreneurs played  big role in the products we have today.  In amongst all the silly scenes in my book is sneaky positive message!  
 
 
 African little girl with afro hair and a crown
 
This book really is ‘last but not least’.  Urbantoons  started following me on Instagram just as I was finishing up this blog.  I’m happy he did! He hails from Mali and has wonderful items (dashikis and hi-tops!)  on his website celebrating ethnicity, identity and the spread of multiculturalism. 
 
Have I missed any? Please let me know.

 

 

Where to buy beautiful black dolls online

Face of an African-American barbie doll with curly hair and big earrings
Fashionista Fancy Flowers doll via Amazon

Anyone who knows me probably knows that I own far too many dolls for someone of my age.  My collection of Christie, Wesley, Madison, Nikki and other black Barbie dolls is a guilty pleasure.  I tried to share  a few with my niece but only managed to set one doll free.

With Christmas coming I thought that now would be a good time to do a round up of some of the sources of dolls of colour.  Visitors to my site come from all over the world so my list of sources will too. I’ll start with a few alternatives to Amazon and then I’ll  do a few guidelines on finding the best Barbies on Amazon.

This website has a mixture of baby dolls, best-friend dolls, boys’ toys, accessories and books. Many of the dolls listed can be bought directly from the site which I think is UK based. Some of the dolls have sold out but this site is all about sharing the info so the listings and picture remain online.

They want black kids to have black toys and nice childhood memories so they seem happy to share info even if it means people shopping elsewhere. Good on them. The photography and descriptions on this site really show off the charms of each doll.

Styling head of black girl with braids and hair accessories
Styling head for Moxie Girl Bria

Taofick Okoya is the Nigerian entrepreneur who created this range of dolls to give African girls dolls that “reflected their culture and heritage” – in other words, dollies rockin’ a Naija look.  The Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba dolls have royal ancestry.  Maybe you do too?

The story is a good one. Local women hand braid the girls’ hair and sew the modern and traditional  outfits. Recently the company was proud to announce the fact that they outsell Barbie in Nigeria! The website – which is full of lively African content – gives links to where the dolls are on sale globally.  There are storybooks too.

A doll in a box, a doll outfit and a children's book
Check out Azeezah’s cool shoes
  • Zolie Zi – the girl who stands up to bullies

Our pals Zolie and her author, Sonya J Bowser,  recently visited London so I’m sure parents and kids , and of course Santa Claus,  will want to know where to get the gorgeous, plush doll.  Girls and boys really bond with Zolie Zi (who is an unusually likeable character) and want to be ‘doll mommies’

smiling little black girl holding a black plush doll
Chizara with her Zolie Zi doll

US doll mommies can head to Amazon.  The doll is not yet on Amazon UK so for now either head to Zolie’s store on her website, ask your friends in the US or try Coloured Goodies in the Netherlands.  More on them below.  Zolie Zi is back in London next year and I am sure the merchandise will become easier to buy.

Not met Zolie Zi?  Our interview with Zolie herself is right here.

This site is a treasure trove of items that kids will love.  After you log in, hit translate as the site is in Dutch.  They have dolls, toys, books, a useful range of greeting cards and clothing.

They make good use of the famous Dutch wax print fabrics and you can buy dresses for Barbie-sized dolls as well as very sweet  head-wraps for baby dolls.  They have a wonderful range of baby dolls.  There are plenty of baby boys in there.  Shanice and Jaylee are not just beautifully dressed but soooo darn cute!!

Two girls in Africa prints hold dolls also in African prints
A treasure trove from the Netherlands

It is easy to feel daunted when you go into Amazon looking for a black Barbie doll.  The prices can be shocking and how on earth do you choose? I’ll give you a few tips. 

Don’t  look for black Barbies Amazon and Mattel who make Barbie dolls  tend not to to use the word black.  Barbies come from California so the terms AA or African American are used instead.

Keep it simple You know that your doll will probably spend most of her life in the bath in her swimming costume.  Don’t overspend on lavish dresses unless you really want to  – or if the doll  is for a collector. I have put a few cash-splashing options at the bottom.

Keep it current The dolls are changing all the time and usually to current dolls are the most affordable.   They tend to have simple outfits and cost around ten British pounds in the UK.

Doll in medical scrubs with two new born babies
Mother and babies and Barbie doing well

At the moment the Fashionistas collection seems to be where the new dolls are.  For the gorgeous doll at the top of this page type in Fashionista Fancy Flowers.  Other dolls of colour are Fashionistas Zig and Zag Curvy Doll, Fashionistas Boho Fringe, Fashionistas Emoji Fun

Outside of the Fashionistas there are other dolls with more accessories that will make great Christmas gifts for around 20 pounds.   Her name doesn’t trip off the tongue but Barbie Careers African American Doll and Play-set is a gorgeous doll who comes with very sweet, tiny babies that she has just delivered successfully.  The Made 2 Move Soccer player is a beautiful  athletic doll.  So is Barbie Endless Moves Doll with Yellow Top.   Mix ‘N Color Barbie Doll (AA African American) has hair colours and salon accessories.

three images of an African American barbie doll playing football or soccer
She’s got moves!

In my day Christie was the name to search for but she is now vintage and priced accordingly.  In the 1990s I would go to Woolworths in Brixton and pay a fiver for a swimsuit Christie on my way to work.  Another doll whose price has risen is My Scene Westley.  Better to try eBay for old dolls.  That will be my next doll post.

Christmas is coming so hurry up and get shopping.