Representation in Picture Books

When I was a young girl, books were my best friends. I had a speech disorder that made it hard for people to understand me, so I always retreated to books. However, many of the books that I read didn’t really reflect me or my life. I never really came across books that featured Black children, and while I didn’t take much focus on it then (or maybe I did), I realized as I got older, so many of the stories we would read in school and at home didn’t feature people like me. 

I recently made the goal to read at least one book from each category of the 2020 Goodreads Book Choice. In the process, I discovered a few books that were nominated that featured Black children. I was genuinely excited to read them because it wasn’t something I had seen that often before. When choosing the nominated books, I also chose other books I found in the library that had Black children as the focus in their stories. Below are my reviews of each of them. 

Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Amanda Redd

This story focuses on a little girl as she tries to find her bonnet before bedtime. Not only does the flow of the writing work well when reading out loud, but the artwork is beautiful. This is especially so when showing the different textures of the hairstyles. Whether it’s the waves on the dad’s head or the curls in grandma’s hair, great detail is provided. 


Me & Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera

Even though this is a simple story that I have come across many times before, it still works in incorporating unique pieces of their life. The only downside to the story is that it is written in a way that doesn’t really lend itself to being read out loud. The flow was not the best, and I lost out on any fun it could have had.


Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi

If I ever heard of a picture book talked about more than this one, then it has definitely been a while. From the title, to the art, and to the message, everything about this book is engaging. However, it’s more engaging for the parents and adults who would read it rather than the kids who it would be read to. While the intentions are all there, it doesn’t do a great job in reaching its target audience.


I Am Enough by Grace Byers

From the title to the words woven throughout the book, this book has a strong and positive message. Even though at times it can be very repetitive, it was still an enjoyable read that works well in being read out loud with images showing diversity across the board. 


Just Like Me by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Just like the title, the poems throughout will introduce characters and scenarios that are relatable and make people feel seen. All of the poems have positive messages, and the diversity seen in the art is amazing.


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