It’s not often that I come across children’s books that feature a Black girl as the main character. It’s even less common that I come across children’s books that feature a Black girl and her father as the main characters. So, how ecstatic do you think I was when I discovered the Daddy Do My Hair? series? The answer is VERY!
Through this series, author, Tola Okogwu, aims to tackle the on-going issue of diversity in the world of children’s literature. The first book, Beth’s Twists, focuses on the weekly Sunday hair routine that is commonplace in many households where Black girls, and some boys, cos, let’s face it, we all know at least one boy in life who is hair goals. But, rather than Beth’s mum getting busy with the leave-in conditioner, water spray, sweet almond oil and the parting comb, it’s Beth’s dad slowly giving himself RSI instead.
Kid 1+1 was delighted to see a number of the hairstyles that she has rocked over the years. She was also quick to point out some others that she would like. We talked about how real shrinkage is.
The book is very sweet and the message that Daddy’s are just as capable of maintaining their daughter’s hair is delivered well. In fact, after reading the story, Kid 1+1 asked if her daddy could do her hair. Kid 1, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as willing to take the risk…not yet anyway.
Tola’s second book, Hope’s Braids, deals with the more serious topic of school bullying. Hope, who is of dual-heritage, has inherited her father’s red hair colouring and is, subsequently, being picked on and ostracised by her classmates.
While braiding her hair, quite successfully I might add, Hope’s daddy explains that she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, and reassures her that she will eventually find her tribe. Although the story is built around Hope’s hair, I felt that the book could be helpful for a child who was being picked on for any other, equally ridiculous, reason, as the message that the bullies are mean and, even though she is going through this now, her future will still be great, is very clear.
The books are written in rhyming couplets, which made things even more fun for Kid 1+1. She enjoyed reading the lines aloud and getting into a rhythm. I found myself wanting to sing the words and could imagine a more interactive reading session where a melody was added.
The books are illustrated by Rahima Begum, whose style reminds me of Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea, and are bursting with colour which is, obviously, very visually appealing to younger children. I would say the books were just right for my 6 year old as she was able to manage the language herself and make sense of the stories. But, both of my girls (Kid 1 has just turned 9) were keen to read the books. I keep telling you that representation matters.
The Photographer and I were very pleased with the books and would happily recommend them and buy them as gifts for another child.
There is a website that accompanies the books https://daddydomyhair.com/ It contains hair tutorials for all of the styles that appear in the book (genius!) as well as links to booksellers including Amazon, Waterstones and Wordery.
I’ll let you all know if The Photographer ever gets round to doing the girls’ hair…
Hope that this has been helpful!
Yes, Beth’s Twists and Hope’s Braids were sent as gifts to me and the girls in return for an honest review, and, yes, all opinions expressed are our own.