Happy to Be Nappy (Jump at the Sun) by bell hooks

Summary: Grades 1-4 Renowned feminist and social critic bell hooks takes on... hair! "Hair for hands to touch and play! Hair to take the gloom away." This rhythmic read-aloud is, on the surface, all about hair: nappy, plaited, long, short, natural, twisted, "soft like cotton, flower petal billowy soft, full of frizz and fuzz." Comb through the surface and find a celebration of childhood and girls and the freedom to express individuality. The rituals implied in the book are rooted in the traditions of hooks's own childhood, when "doing" hair was just as much an excuse for girls to laugh and tell stories and just be together. Going still deeper is the much-needed message encouraging girls to love and accept themselves (and others) just the way they are. In bell hooks's first venture into children's books, she wisely teams up with Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Chris Raschka (Yo! Yes?, Mysterious Thelonious). Raschka's bold paint strokes on a color wash background are strikingly original--a perfect match for the exuberant text. This beautiful picture book will surely make any reader, young or old, happy to be nappy--and anyone who raved or ranted over Carolivia Herron and illustrator Joe Cepeda's Nappy Hair will welcome this joyful, celebratory book. --Emilie Coulter

Classroom Implication: A critical book at this time, bell hooks advocates for self-love and acceptance of individuality. She works to reclaim a term that has been used derogatorily and breeches the subject delicately through poetic texts. This picture book could pair nicely with identity-based novels, such as The Skin I'm In.

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