When we were younger, many of us were spoon-fed books that featured predominately white, heteronormative protagonists. Some of the books that are considered classics may be literary treasures but they lack one of the most important elements—us. Seeing ourselves in not only film and television but in literature of all sorts—from science fiction, to coloring books—allows young Black girls to connects more deeply with who they are.
We’re far more than the supportive best friend or the character that gets one or two good quotes. We are the story and it’s time to spotlight the authors who make us a priority in their writing from the beginning.
Including books like Celina Monique McMillian’s Note To Self: Affirmations to Young Queens and Latashia M. Perry’s Hair Like Mine, we collected books by authors have carved out space in the world of literature for young Black girls to feel safe and protected. Check out these six books below that teach young Black girls how to love themselves in the skin they’re in, the hair that grows from their head and all of their features in between!
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita Nyongo’o’s children’s book Sulwe tells the story of a young girl who was born “the color of midnight,” and directly addresses the topics of colorism and self-esteem for darker-skinned Black girls. The book’s inspiration is pulled from the Black Panther actress’ experience growing up as a dark-skinned girl and learning the nuances of lighter skinned privilege.
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
Chicago native Matthew A. Cherry’s Oscar-winning animated short and children’s book demonstrates the infinite loving relationship between a father and his daughter. In this book, young Zuri is faced with a challenge when it comes to styling her own natural hair but her daddy comes to the rescue to step in and help his young queen where he can.
Skin Like Mine by Latashia M. Perry
Self-love for the color and texture of your skin is the focus of Latashia M. Perry’s Skin Like Mine, a children’s book from the Like Mine series. Positive affirmations, ethnic diversity, and self-imagery are at the epicenter of this book.
Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen
The lead character, Sassy, is a young Black girl with long legs and a dream of becoming a ballerina. Though she’s nervous that her feet are too big and her legs are too long, she gives it all she’s got when a famous director comes to visit her class. This book is based on Allen’s own experience as a young dancer.
I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
David Catrow’s illustrations flawlessly balance out the words written by Karen Beaumont. This story tells the tale of a young girl who loves herself inside and out. From the insides of her skeleton makeup to her quirky habits and unique stylistic features, adores it all!
I Am Enough by Grace Byers
The former Empire actress packs this picture book with self-love beginning with the affirming title, “I Am Enough.” As young Black girls, we oftentimes don’t realize that we are more than enough, but this book is the perfect way to teach young ones that lesson early.
ABCs For Girls Like Me by Melanie Goolsby
Read aloud by not-so Little actress and producer Marsai Martin, Melanie Goolsby’s “ABCs For Girls Like Me” is a prime example of representation. If we don’t see it, we can’t believe it but this book specifically catered to young Black girls puts the batteries in their backs that they can achieve anything that they want from shining examples such as Ava DuVernay to Zakiya Randall.