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[REVIEWS] Black girls as main characters in children's literature.

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

As a children's librarian, I pay attention to every detail when it comes to choosing what book to introduce the little ones. It is important to make sure our library has books in which every child sees themselves and their family represented. There is such a lack of diversity in children's literature, I think it is important to help parents find what they may be looking for in books!


Today, we shall focus on five picture books I really love that have a black girl as the main character!



THE PROUDEST BLUE


It is the first-hijab day for Asiya! She goes to the hijab shop with her mum and her little sister, Faizah. Mama likes the pink scarf but, Asiya wants the blue one. Faizah IS IN AWE with the one she chooses: it is not a random blue. It is the BRIGHTEST blue, the colour of the OCEAN.


Faizah is impressed by the beauty of her sister’s hijab, and the whole book is about how she perceives it as opposed to how others see it. To her, it is radiant: "Asiya’s hijab isn’t a whisper. Asiya’s hijab is like the sky on a sunny day...” However, at school, Asiya faces the laughs, mean comments and questions from others. Faizah too gets asked by a whispering classmate: “What’s that on your sister’s head?”


We understand their mum got them ready for these kinds of interactions. Asiya’s mind is strong and she doesn’t let the mean words get in her mind. As their mum says: “ Don't carry the hurtful words [...] they belong only to those who said them.”


There's so much to say about this picture book! The bond between the two sisters is amazing. I love that Asiya has a voice and the fact we can"t deny she is wearing her hijab by choice. I also adore that despite the bad interactions she had with a few persons, we see others accept her and that her friends have no problem with her coming to school with a scarf on her head.



MY PET STAR


This is an adorable picture book about a little girl who has found a star underneath a tree. She brings it home, helps it find its glow back and decides to keep it as a pet. However, stars live at night, they can’t have ice cream at the park, they don’t play with toys nor can they speak!


Even though they became inseparable, the girl will learn that loving someone sometimes means to let them go.


A delightful bedtime story with charming rhymes ideal for those who wish to welcome a pet!



AFIYA


This splendid picture book titled 'Afiya' and written by James Berry and Anna Cunha.

Afiya has a white summer frock she wears every day! But it's not a regular dress. Afiya's dress is special and acts as a white canvas to paint on each morning!


When she sees pigeons, they fly and decorate her dress. When she goes to the zoo, she comes back with tigers on her dress and when she goes to the seaside, she comes back with fish on her dress!


The illustrations are astonishing and create a perfect balance with the poetic text!


It is a brilliant way to illustrate the link between experiences and memories. What we experience becomes part of us and, this is what happens to Afiya. She carries a bit of everything she lives home and, as the canvas becomes blank every morning, she gets to create new memories every day!






For more reviews, hop on our Instagram page: @frenchandbritishlit

© 2018 by Frenchandbritishlit.

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