Last night as I snuggled into the slightly frigid sheets and fluffed my un-fluffable pillows, my mind went on a complete tangent. I started thinking about Mommyhood, which led me to think about the gift that I need to buy for my cousin’s baby shower, which led me to think about what I would have really really appreciated as a gift knowing what I know now. After only a few moments reflection, my mind lingered on the simplest of things that I believe is the beginning of shaping a child’s esteem. I would have truly appreciated children’s books that illustrated little brown babies like Zoe living and learning.
So at 1 a.m. in the morning I start perusing Amazon’s website with hopes of finding some books that I can purchase for the new babies. Unfortunately, due to the late nature of my epiphany, the books wouldn’t arrive in time, so I decided to purchase the books as Christmas presents for Zoe. I searched and searched and found a handful of books that fit the bill, but for the most part there weren’t very many to be found.
Furthermore, the books I found with little brown faces were like “self help” books for babies or spin offs from the jim crow era: “I like my hair,” “Messy Bessey’s Garden” and the slightly socially charged book “In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers.”
Now I don’t know about you, but making a social statement when I’m reading Zo-zo an afternoon or bedtime story isn’t my top priority. I would just like to read her a beautifully illustrated book that shows a little brown baby learning to count, or saying the alphabet or just playing outside with Mommy and Daddy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about teaching our children about history and today’s social challenges, but I do believe that the more we acknowledge and emphasize that there is an issue, the more they will begin to grow up and harbor resentment and frustration surrounding those issues. Perhaps a more constructive way of combating the social challenges surrounding African Americans and other people of color is to simply show examples of healthy family structures minus the social undercurrent. Of course I like my hair and of course daddy is around, and of course …well…I’m kind of at a loss for Messy Bessey’s Garden. I think that book just requires and entirely different title…like…Zoe’s Garden (tee hee).
So with that said, I spent nearly $50 on books for Zoe. It’s totally worth it to me if she gets to see her reflection. Below is the list of books that I purchased if you’re at all interested in doting on a little one in your family or friend circle:
1. Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio, LeUyen Pham
2. Baby Dance by Ann Taylor, Marjorie Van Heerden
3. Girl of Mine by Jabari Asim, LeUyen Pham
4. Please, Baby Please by Spike Lee
5. I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont, David Catrow (I heard it’s super cute, even for a “baby self-help” book)
Were you able to see your reflection in the children’s books you read growing up?