Celebrating Curly Haired Girls in Picture Books

by Bethany Edwards

My greatest passion is to advocate for diverse, multicultural, and inclusive books that show girls accomplishing goals, exploring, educating others, etc. When no more than 33 percent of children’s books in any given year featured a woman or female animal, the number of books celebrating girls with curly hair doing everyday things and achieving every day goals and aspirations is even less.

Beauty Standards in Bedtime Stories

When Whiteness is The Standard of Beauty in children’s literature, this has a direct effect on the self-esteem girls of color learning to read. The hard truth is that Non-white people are still allowed to be considered beautiful, of course, as long as they look like white people. Don’t believe me? Just Google “unprofessional hairstyles for work” and “beautiful woman“. A thousand pictures may convince you.

Celebrating Curly Haired Girls in Picture Books

Consequently, teaching children that they are beautiful just the way they are is more important than ever. The “beauty politics” can been seen particularly in hair. For this reason, today I bring you 3 new books in 2018 celebrating strong, courageous, and beautiful curly-haired girls making their dreams come true.

What If…

Today I bring you 3 new books celebrating strong, courageous, and beautiful curly-haired girls. We need to continue the conversation that whiteness is not the standard of beauty. Teaching an inclusive worldview of what is considered beautiful needs to be explicitly taught in children's literature. When everything goes wrong and all of our expectations are smashed, what happens next? This beautiful story of a creative, brown-skinned girl with glorious purple curls who is determined not to allow her circumstances to stop her from achieving her goals is a must read.

When this little artist dreams of creating, she takes us through a reflective journey. She imagines losing every object she would normally use to create her magic. As her pencils, paper, and space to create her art disappear one by one, she fearlessly continues her mission.

Instead of traditional mediums, she can use floorboards and dirt, leaves and snow, light and shadows, and even her own voice to create the story she wants to tell through her art.And as long as she lives, she will always create.

The always brilliant Mike Curato uses sugar cubes, flower petals, sand, paper bags, marbles, sequins, and more to compose these gorgeous and vibrant illustrations.

The rhyming verse will have you truly visualizing what it is like in the protagonist’s world full of dreams. Finally, the culmination of a fold out spread where you literally and figuratively dive inside her mind’s eye is genius.

Order What If… on Amazon | Shop your local indie bookstore

Recommended age: 4-8

Connect with Mike Curato on Twitter

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Connect with Little Brown Books for Young Readers on Twitter

Today I bring you 3 new books celebrating strong, courageous, and beautiful curly-haired girls. We need to continue the conversation that whiteness is not the standard of beauty. Teaching an inclusive worldview of what is considered beautiful needs to be explicitly taught in children's literature.

Hair

Today I bring you 3 new books celebrating strong, courageous, and beautiful curly-haired girls. We need to continue the conversation that whiteness is not the standard of beauty. Teaching an inclusive worldview of what is considered beautiful needs to be explicitly taught in children's literature. In this amazing new book by hairstylist Angela C. Styles, she pens a relatable story for every little girl with curly hair. Like so many girls before her, Keely hates her hair.

She just wants to fit in with everyone else at school, but she can’t. Her big puffy hair is too kinky, too big, and too out of place. Keely is frustrated, and its finally time to tell Mom just how frustrated she is!

However, Mom knows a secret about Keelys hair that Keely doesn’t know. This secret is the key to Keely embracing her uniqueness.

One of the inspirations for “Hair” was to bring up the issue of identity differences. When children don’t look like their mom, they tend question their identity.

This book helps kids to accept and own their uniqueness and love their hair although it may look different from those around them.
As many times as I have heard my oldest daughter say “mama, I wish I had hair like yours” this book could not be more amazing. Whether you are a Multicultural family like mine, an adoptive family, or just a family with different in hair textures, this is a MUST read.

Order Hair on Amazon |Shop your local indie bookstore

Recommended for Ages 4-8.

Connect with Angela C. Styles on Twitter

I AM FAMOUS

Today I bring you 3 new books celebrating strong, courageous, and beautiful curly-haired girls. We need to continue the conversation that whiteness is not the standard of beauty. Teaching an inclusive worldview of what is considered beautiful needs to be explicitly taught in children's literature. As Kirkus Reviews puts it, “Move over Eloise, Fancy Nancy, and Olivia; this curly-haired, brown-skinned protagonist has miles of flair and knows how to use it!”
Disclaimer: I giggled out loud the entire time while reading I AM FAMOUS. I could not even get through some of the lines as I was reading aloud. The kids thought I was crazy.

Kiely is a little brown girl just living her fabulous life (and has the perfect amount of sass). Talk about a perfect book for a mentor text in the classroom and to add to any home library.

Award winning author and Illustrator team have collaborated to bring us a very relateable story as Keily’s stardom is both a delight and a problem.

Will Keily make it through when she gets to the inevitable school of hard-knocks and be able to rise above adversity after an embarrassing performance?

This book was a delight to read; bucket loads of confidence doesn’t even begin to describe Keily. I AM FAMOUS reminds young readers that love overcomes obstacles. An added bonus is a powerful lesson for parents about a child-centered world.

As a result, parents/teachers can guide children to see the power of resiliency through the giggles and laughter this memorable book is bound to evoke from every audience!

Order I AM FAMOUS on Amazon |Shop your local indie bookstore

Recommended for Ages 3-5.

Today I bring you 3 new books celebrating strong, courageous, and beautiful curly-haired girls. We need to continue the conversation that whiteness is not the standard of beauty. Teaching an inclusive worldview of what is considered beautiful needs to be explicitly taught in children's literature.

Connect with author Tara Luebbe on Twitter

Connect with illustrator Joanne Lew-Vriethoff on Twitter

Connect with author Becky Cattie on Twitter

Connect with Albert Whitman Publishing on Twitter

Bonus Read: Beautiful

Today I bring you 3 new books celebrating strong, courageous, and beautiful curly-haired girls. We need to continue the conversation that whiteness is not the standard of beauty. Teaching an inclusive worldview of what is considered beautiful needs to be explicitly taught in children's literature.

Beautiful by Stacy McAnulty and Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

“McAnulty and Lew-Vriethoff shatter the cultural definition of “beauty” by showing young girls of all races and abilities studying nature, dressing up as pirates, experimenting in chemistry, and more.” —Kirkus Reviews

Beautiful breaks barriers by showing girls free to be themselves: splashing in mud, conducting science experiments, and reading books under a flashlight with friends.

Especially relevant, this book will encourage all girls to embrace who they are and realize their endless potential. Explore the beauty of women and girls in biographies and online resources for home and the classroom.

Purchase Beautiful on Amazon | Shop your local indie bookstore

Recommend for Ages 5-6.

Connect with author Stacy McAnulty on Twitter

Connect with illustrator Joanne Lew-Vriethoff on Twitter

Connect with Running Press Kids Publishing on Twitter

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2 Comments

Kid Lit TV Commenter Tara Luebbe

Thank you Bethany, for your continued support of our little book and that pic of your daughter is so powerful/lovely/amazing. Every time I see it I just get happy.

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Kid Lit TV Commenter Samantha Berger

This was so inspiring and affirming to read! thank you for this beautiful post. And thank you for including our book What If… in these top Girls with Curls books. As a curly girl myself, I remember when I was a child, seeing all the Disney movies, and every single protagonist, had long luxurious straight hair (and usually blonde). I collected the dolls, I coveted their straight long locks, and a golden standard was set (quite literally) that the most desirable, princessly, WORTHY and lovable girls, were those with straight blonde hair. As a grown-up, this was further reaffirmed. If I wore a long straight wig out into the world, I was treated differently, than with my own natural curls. Better. Friends told me they loved my hair blown out straight. Friends told me their husbands preferred their hair straight. Interesting. This made me develop the lifetime mantra ROCK WHAT YA GOT and ROCK IT A LOT! DON’T GIVE A HOOT ABOUT WHAT IS NOT. LIVE IN THIS WORLD AND CARVE YOUR OWN SPOT. TAKE IT AND LOVE IT AND ROCK WHAT YA GOT. In other words—shift perspective into loving yourself with what you HAVE and do your best with what you have to work with instead of always striving for something OTHER! It’s a real empowering change of mind set to even consider the possibility of loving exactly what you have – right here and right now. It’s something we naturally believe as children until we are taught and showed otherwise. As a grown-up, I need to try and remember. Every day, all the time. This post reminded me. I hope my next book Rock What Ya Got — illustrated by Kerascoet – out this fall with Little, Brown, reminds humans everywhere to rock what they got and love who they are. Thank you for this post, Bethany. I’m so glad I thought to send you an advance copy. Timely. Now let’s go be the best humans we can be and ROCK it. All of us! ❤️

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