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 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.
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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