Every since I got pregnant I knew there were certain things I wanted to teach my son. Once I started decorating his room I knew I wanted a little nook where I would be able to read to him as he fell asleep. I bought a bunch of books in English and in Spanish because teaching my son Spanish is important to me. What I noticed is that I didn’t have any books with characters that looked like him or shared any characteristics as him. Nobody with brown skin, pelo rizo, bilingual. No characters that celebrate culture or have a diverse family. I enjoy reading to him about hungry caterpillars, or giving cookies to mice, but we also have to remember to teach our children about who we are. We have to show them that characters that look like them exist. However it’s good for ALL children to have diverse books.
So I went on a mission to find books with Afro-latino representation. Even though not all of the books on my list are about Afro-latinos all of them have been written with the same intention. The need to share stories that exists in our diverse society.
Finding Diverse Books
Yo Se Que Puedo! By Veronica Chapman
While giving a speech at her high school graduation, Faith, the class valedictorian, shares her childhood dreams, and the lessons that served as the foundation for her courage. I actually found Veronica on Instagram, and was able to chat with her. She has a website called blackbabybooks.com that is an online resource for finding children’s books with black characters. She recently traveled to Panama to do a reading of the Spanish version of her book. While there she noticed there weren’t many books with black representation. She is always adding titles to the BBB site. I love how she is making sure black children of the diaspora are proud to be black and are empowered.
La Familia Cool by Dania Santana
La Familia Cool is a bilingual, multicultural, multiracial family of five celebrating diversity, family values and identity within a Latino family. Dania is an Afro-latina author, social media influencer, and multiculturalism, diversity, & inclusion expert. I recently followed along on social media as she served as an ambassador at Hispanicize. It’s her mission to educate and empower people all over the US.
Pelo Malo No Existe by Sulma Arzu-Brown
A book with an anti-bullying message that reinforces respect for individualism. Hispanic and Black children are exposed to the divisive and bullying term, “bad hair,” within their own communities. The term “bad hair” or “pelo malo” is used to describe hair that is usually of curlier texture or of a thick and coarse density. This is irresponsible and often contributes to a child’s low self–esteem, dividing both communities and families.
The book’s purpose is to empower all children by giving them alternate terms to describe their hair, and teaching them the importance of respecting one another’s differences. Sulma is a Garifuna woman born in Honduras. I actually found her in a hash tag on Instagram when I was posting pictures of my son. I love this book because I get asked on a regular basis when I’m going to do something to my son’s hair. However my husband and I love his hair!
Pelo Malo, Quien by Yina Guerrero
A book about a girl named Lucia Ricitos who is being made fun of and laughed at by her classmates because she has curly hair. They talk about her curly hair and tell her she has bad hair. However, she later learns that everyone is unique and has different physical features. Yina Guerrero is from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Growing Girls With Curls by Chantal Maples
“Magical is what we are and will always be. Black Girl magic is real, black girl magic is me!” Growing Girls With Curls was written to encourage young girls of color to love themselves and the skin they’re in. The first of the Growing Girls With Curls series, filled with stories every young girl of color can relate to. I am proud of this lady! When I started my blogging journey she was one of the few people who actually helped me out. She wrote this book because there weren’t any books she could read to her daughters that represented them. So she did what any mother would do, she did it herself! She also blogs at www.growinggirlswithcurls.com
D. Lee’s World by Diana Lee Santamaria
Diana Lee Santamaria created the D. Lee character after her own image. Being a woman of Hispanic descent she grew up not being able to relate to any of the characters she saw in books. She knows the importance of making sure minority children are represented. In her books you will often see a variety of divergent characters. Her books are bilingual with English and Spanish on the same page.
Same but different: The Colourful Life! by Naomi Kissiedu Green
Same, but Different is a story about a boy named Kobi and his family. Kobi is mixed race and there are not many families like Kobi’s where Kobi lives. He shows his class that people can appear different, but they also very often have a lot in common. Naomi has written a couple of books. I got a chance to chat with her and she is really passionate about diversity, REPRESENTATION and inclusion. If you get a chance you should also check out her TED talk.
It is so hard to find books that are representative of Afro-latino culture. I’m hoping that as Santana gets older he will see more of his self represented in books. I know there are a few more diverse books out there. What are your favorites?
Until Next Time!