By Chelsea Gwinn, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Seeing yourself and your community in books is powerful. By creating mirrors of ourselves, or windows to the lives of our friends and neighbors, books help us get to know ourselves and create connections to others. In September, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library celebrates both Library Card Sign-Up Month and is coming off WelcomeCLT’s Welcome Week (September 10-19). The theme for Welcome Week this year was “Belonging Begins with Us,” a statement that underscores the mission of the Library and our belief in the importance of information access for all as well as the power and importance of diverse books.
Inspired by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Honorary Chair for 2021’s National Library Card Sign-Up Month, Marley Dias and her #100BlackGirlBooks initiative, here are a few recently published titles featuring Black girls:
Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd (2020)
Going to bed is a time of day centered on routine. In this picture book, Nancy Redd celebrates the nighttime ritual of black hair care traditions, following a little girl as she searches for her bedtime bonnet. The bold and engaging illustrations connect readers to this charming family as they highlight the variety of hair textures and routines of each family member. Fun to read at bedtime or any part of the day.
Becoming Vanessa by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (2021)
Local author and illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton brings a young girl’s first day at school to life in this appealing story. Trying to stand out but fit in, to be yourself but also make connections with others is a universal life experience that will connect with readers. The colorful mixed media illustrations will keep readers engaged to the last page.
Ambitious Girl by Meena Harris (2021)
Too often, words are given different connotations, positive becoming negative, when applied to different people, especially women. Through a charming young protagonist, Meena Harris encourages girls to use words to empower and motivate themselves in this hopeful story. The watercolor illustrations reflect the girl’s feelings, changing from cool grays as she first hears criticisms to warm oranges as she celebrates being an “ambitious girl!”
Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (2020)
“What’s your name?” This question is one heard every day, but Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow reminds readers that the answer to this question is as important and unique as an individual. After a day full of name mispronunciations, a young girl no longer wants to go to school. Under the mother’s guidance, readers learn along with the protagonist how to celebrate the diversity of languages, cultures, traditions and meanings that make every name beautiful.