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Mixed Race Book Review: I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont

Mixed Race Book Review: I Like Myself

Of all the things that will change when my daughter starts school this year, perhaps her self-image is the most profound. From the relative intimacy of a pre-school environment, she’ll suddenly become a small fish in a big pond, surrounded by many similar fishes.

She will probably learn about comparison and self-appraisal at an unprecedented rate. Like all girls, she may encounter objectification of her appearance and uncharitable assessments of other aspects of her worth.

This brings out the lioness in me. I will protect my daughter’s ability to love herself, with roars and claws if necessary.

I Like Myself is my current favourite weapon in this war. In it, a girl uses affirming and celebratory words about herself. She announces that she loves her body, doesn’t care what others say, and knows that what other people see is not the total of who she is.i like myself 2

“I like myself because I’m me, and me is all I want to be!” is our new family mantra. My daughter is lucky if I’ll read her anything else right now: why tell her stories of male trains or a piggy family when I could boost her self-worth by chanting the catchy lyrics of I Like Myself again? And again? And AGAIN! Better still, the central character is a girl of colour.

In a world of children’s books that is still inexplicably dominated by male characters – even animals are routinely masculinised by default (looking at you, Giles Andreae) – and white ones at that, this is a breath of fresh air. It’s a catchy, funny, brilliantly illustrated read that is fabulous for all kids, but for mixed or Black girls I imagine that our heroine would make an especially good role model.i like myself

As parents, if we want to counteract the culture that cause our girls to dislike how they look, or even who they are, we have work to do. Words help ideas take root in a child’s mind: they have the power to instil a sense of worth in our kids as they encounter an objectifying world.

This book is a fun, beautiful and powerful tool in our toolboxes, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. AGAIN!

*** This was a guest post written by Zoe Sanderson that has been republished***

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The ULTIMATE Guide to Diverse Children’s Books with Multiracial Characters

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO DIVERSE CHILDREN’S BOOKS WITH MULTIRACIAL CHARACTERS

You’ve probably realised the importance of reading books to your children and perhaps you don’t need to be convinced of the idea that representation matters if you want to raise a positive, confident mixed race or multiracial child.

But the fact is having a shelf full of diverse children’s books is important for ALL children. It doesn’t matter  whether it’s to instil in them a view of the world that goes beyond their immediate environment or to feature inclusivity, tolerance and respect through the books that they read.

ALL of the above reasons are important. And athough diversity is still not truly representative in our art, media, tv shows that we watch and see all day,  we can make it a priority through our choice of diverse children’s books.

With the wave of technology and more and more authors choosing to self publish, we are lucky to live in an era where diverse children’s books are appearing more often in our book shops.

This guide features not only the best books but the BEST diverse children’s books LISTS broken down by theme for your child’s bookshelf. Have a look and choose a few today!

50 DIVERSE CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR STRONG GIRLS
Diverse CHILDREN's Books
50 Diverse Books for Strong Girls

 

30+ Books Featuring Black Male Lead Characters
Diverse Children's Books
30+ Books Featuring Black Male Lead Characters
10 MULTICULTURAL BOARD BOOKS
Diverse Children's Books
10 Multicultural Board Books
18 MULTICULTURAL DIVERSE CHILDREN’S BOOKS ABOUT FRIENDSHIP
Diverse Children's Books
18 Multicultural Books about Friendship
21 MIDDLE SCHOOL NOVELS WITH MULTIRACIAL CHARACTERS
Diverse Children's Books
12 Middle Grade Novels with Multiracial Characters
70+ PICTURE BOOKS ABOUT MIXED RACE FAMILIES
Diverse Children's Books
70+ Picture Books about Mixed Race Families
DIVERSE CHILDREN’S BOOKS TO HELP KIDS TALK ABOUT RACISM
Diverse Children's Books
Books to help Kids Talk about Racism
TOP 10 DIVERSITY STARTING SCHOOL PICTURE BOOKS
Diverse Children's Books
Top 10 Diversity Starting School Picture Books
30 MULTICULTURAL DIVERSE CHILDREN’S BOOKS ABOUT IMMIGRATION
Diverse Children's Books
30 Multicultural Children’s Books about Immigration
18 INCLUSIVE PICTURE BOOKS ABOUT LOVING FAMILIES
Diverse Children's Books
18 Inclusive Picture Books about Loving Families
11 AWESOME BOOKS THAT CELEBRATE CURLY HAIR!
Diverse Children's Books
11 Awesome Books that Celebrate Curly Hair!
75+ CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR RAISING RACE-CONSCIOUS KIDS
Diverse Children's Books
75 Books for Raising Race Conscious Kids

 


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Mixed Race Book Review: Stand Tall Molly Lou Lemon

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Stand Tall Molly Lou Lemon. But I’m glad I did.

Stand Tall Molly Lou LemonFrom the first page, it gripped my kids because it paints the picture of a little girl who stands out. Not because she’s popular but because she is the ‘shortest girl in first grade’. But that doesn’t stop her.

 

She has buck teeth, she’s short, has a voice like a bullfrog and she has wild curly hair. But she doesn’t care. She holds her head high and uses her limitations to stand tall no matter what.

Stand Tall Molly Lou Lemon

But one day, she has to leave her friends and her supportive grandma… and start a new school.

 

 

 

She got called “Shrimpo” by the school bully and “Buck-tooth Beaver” but she doesn’t let that get her down.

An absolutely adorable book for children nervous about going to back to school, changing schools or facing bullies.

Stand Tall Molly Lou Lemon
Click to purchase on Amazon

Molly Lou Lemon shows us that bullies will never win. That if you hold your head high, people will see the light within you. What a character and a lovely story. Perfect for ages 3-8 years.

 

Meet the Author: Kechi’s Hair Goes Every Which Way

One of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time, Kechi’s Hair Goes Every Which Way is the perfect book to introduce your child to loving their curly, thick, and wonderful hair.

But even better, I got to meet the author, Tola Okugwu who shared her story and what inspired her to start writing about afro hair.

Known even more for her blog about natural hair, when Tola had her first daughter, she noticed (like many of us) the lack of books to inspire her daughter to love her curls.

Daddy Do My Hair
Author Tola Okugwu reading from “Daddy Do My Hair”

A book lover and journalist by nature, Tola decided she would write about it. But she didn’t just want to write any book. Every morning she went to work and her partner/ husband was the one doing her daughter’s hair. In her household this was normal. But where were the books that showed the beautiful relationship Dads and daughters can have doing hair??

Soon after, Tola wrote her first book Daddy Do My Hair and after trying unsuccessfully to find a publisher, she soon started her own publishing house and self published Daddy Do My Hair, along with Hope’s Braids and now, Kechi’s Hair Goes Every Which Way.

I have to say though her latest is my favourite. It’s a fun book that still explores the relationship between Daddy and daughter poking fun at the way afro hair can’t be ‘contained.  Curly hair’s ability to go “this way, that way and every which way” is a celebratory repetitive rhyme throughout that makes every child want to turn the page eager to see what happens next.

You can see from the videos below, Tola Okugwu is inspired by her daughters and truly believes in what she is doing. Her chat with the children in the audience encouraged them all to examine their own hair and see which way their hair curls, and if it does, does it go every which way?

Illustrated with lovely pictures throughout, Kechi’s Hair is one to look out for. And I’ve even got a few signed copies to give away to a few lucky readers! I will give details this week about how you can enter to get your free copies!

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curly hair cheatsheet
GET YOUR FREE CURLY HAIR CHEATSHEET NOW!

Mixed Race Book Review: The Name Jar

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

I grew up in mostly-white Edmonton, Alberta, Canada right smack in the middle of the Iran-Iraq war. Awareness of difference was low and I remember fantasizing about having a name just like everyone else.

The name calling and the teasing was too much at times.  “Arriba, Arriba, Undalé, Undalé!” was called after me every time I was around. Adults too would struggle. And although they tried, I eventually shortened my name from Fariba to Fari. It didn’t help.  “Fairy? No. Fiery? No. Ferrari?”

My chosen name? Jessica. In all of my fantasies, I was Jessica. Because Jessica was like everyone else, Jessica’s parents weren’t from somewhere else and best of all, Jessica didn’t stand out because of her name.

In Yangsook Choi’s book, “The Name Jar”, Unhei (pronounced Yoon-Hye) moves from South Korea to America. She starts her first day of school having to explain her new name to all of the other kids and, inevitably, they laugh and tease her about how it’s pronounced. “You-hye, bye bye!”, they tease her.

The story develops with Unhei wanting to choose a typical American name like Laura or Amanda. But she’s reminded soon enough about what her Grandmother taught her about her name. Unhei means grace. And her name’s meaning is far more important than fitting in.

Through a boy she becomes friendly with, he discovers her real name and it shows her she can be proud of her name- even in America.

the name jarWith beautiful illustrations throughout, The Name Jar has inspired conversations with my children about how and why we’re different as a family. How we might ‘stick out’ and why it’s important to embrace those differences because they make up who we are.

I wouldn’t change my name for the world. But I only discovered that as an adult. I wish I’d been able to stand tall and correct the teasers and conformists who desperately tried to make my name sound english.

This book is about immigrants, about fitting in, peer pressure, multiculturalism and third culture kids. Definitely one for your bookshelves if you’d like to inspire conversations about diversity.


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Mixed Race Book Review: I Don’t Want Curly Hair!

Mixed Race Book Review I Don’t Want Curly Hair

With such lovely illustrations, it doesn’t get more easily relatable than Laura Ellen Anderson’s book, “I Don’t Want Curly Hair”.

For my middle daughter who is going through her own love-hate relationship with her coily locks, this has been an especially poignant book.

Written in delightful rhyme, a girl with curly red locks describes how she is exhausted with her curly hair, how she can never tame it, and spends hours and hours brushing, pulling and stretching it.

She happens upon another little girl with straight black hair in her journey and whose woe is the fact that her hair is “boring and straight and why won’t it curl?!”

“OH?!”, says the curly girl. How could she, with straight, smooth hair want curly hair??

The two girls laugh at how silly they’ve been realising that both their hair is special and that both can do amazing things with their hair.

After multiple readings, my daughter now knows enough of the words to read it her own way, getting into character, “I DON’T LIKE MY CURLY HAIR!! It’s MESSY AND SILLY AND JUST PLAIN UNFAIR!”

She loves the ways the girl tries desperately to straighten her hair, even managing to wet it completely so that it turns straight (a secret most curly girls are delighted about).

With delightful humour throughout, it’s a great book for getting the conversation going about loving the skin we’re in and showing our curly girls that they should love their hair no matter what.

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book review i don't want curly hair

Mixed Race Book Review: I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl

I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl by Betty K. Bynum is the newest in our series of mixed race book reviews.

At first glance, it appears that this book is not really for biracial or multiracial kids. But going with the one drop rule in American culture, the term ‘Black’ refers to all racial mixes who are part black.

The book’s illustrations are lovely.

Full of images of little girls doing what they love- playing, running, skipping, holding hands. Being who they want to be and loving who they are.

All the girls are different shades with different hair colours and textures. My girls love choosing which ones they think they look like. One girl has her hair in braids, one in ponytails, another with her curls out and proud and still another with straight black hair. All show the diversity of girls-whatever their racial background.

That’s why we read it as “I’m a Pretty Little Girl” and skip the ‘black’. Because it’s really about the diversity of girls, about being proud and loving each and every one regardless of difference.

The girls are depicted running, skipping, jumping, helping, singing and being artistic as it follows one girls’ day at school with her friends. Then it ends with each girl fulfilling a dream of what they want to be when they grow up- showing a diversity of choices available.

I can’t recommend it more. Even just for the images. It’s lovely.

Mixed Race Book Review: “My Two Grannies”

Mixed Race Book Review My Two Grannies

As part of our new mixed race book review series, I will be starting to review books featuring or highlighting mixed race or multiracial characters.

Today’s feature is the book : My Two Grannies by Floella Benjamin– a favourite of mine and my daughters’.

There’s perhaps no-one more apt to write a children’s book than British children’s presenter Floella Benjamin, a black woman in an interracial relationship who has two mixed kids. She’s a household face and name to British 30 and 40 somethings who grew up with her face on their television sets and is today the Vice President of Barnardos Children’s Charity.

The story is about a little girl named Alvina whose parents are going away for the weekend. Alvina gets very excited that her two grannies, whom she loves with all her heart will be coming to take care of her.

But her grannies are from two very different places. Granny Vero is from Trinidad and Granny Rose is from England.

Both Grannies have very different taste in food, interests and things they like to do. And they soon begin to argue about how best to take care of Alvina. Alvina comes up with a way they can both work together and enjoy each other’s ideas, recipes and activities. In the end, they both both realise they can appreciate what the other brings and can even learn from each other! A celebration of the different parts of what makes Alvina who she is!

My Two Grannies is a lovely book for mixed heritage or mixed race children who have family members from different parts of the world or from different cultures. My two oldest daughters love the book because they can relate to having two grannies of different colours and from different cultures. It’s a great way to get them to celebrate diversity whilst engaging them in their own real-life experience of having two grannies hailing from different parts of the world.

We highly recommend My Two Grannies and love that it’s written by such  a well-known children’s presenter. So do consider it for your next purchase!

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Mixed Race Book Review: Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match

Marisol McDonald Mixed Race Book Review

Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown is the second in our mixed race book review series by Mixed.Up.Mama.

This is one my daughters’ favourites (and mine). Inspired by her Peruvian-American heritage, Monica Brown has won numerous awards and starred reviews for her Marisol series which, incidentally is also written in Spanish.

Marisol McDonald is a wonderful book about a Peruvian-American girl named Marisol who loves to be different. She loves to wear green polka dots and purple stripes, eats peanut butter and jelly burritos and tells her cousin off when he tries to tell her her skin colour (brown) does not match her red hair. Simply said, she loves who she is. When everyone, including her teacher, tells her she should match, she decides to change herself and the next day, she wears a matching outfit, plays pirates with her friends how they like it and writes her name in printed letters as her teacher says she should. But soon, she discovers how boring it is and how proud she is to be a mismatched Marisol.

The illustrations, done by Sara Palacios and the fact that it is written in Spanish beside the English are bonuses to the lovely story behind author Brown’s loveable character. For bilingual children as well as kids that come from more than one culture, this is a fantastic choice.

Another recommendation if you want your child to be proud of their mixed heritage!

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