Now is the time to celebrate Black culture and stories.
The new (2020) Netflix Docu-series Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices, reflects the culture and experiences of Black people, which everyone can learn from. Featuring relatable childhood memories for many and an accurate depiction of the lack of representation of Black people, this heartfelt series is both educational and entertaining.
The series, which is 12 short but powerful episodes across 1 season, features different children’s books, read by black authors, actors, and artists. The books were chosen using a social justice education framework and focus on the concepts of identity, respect, justice, and action.
The easy-to-watch (less than 10-minute) episodes are fun, enticing, and engaging; not only for children but also adults alike.
All the episodes are amazing but here are our favorites listed below:
I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, which makes any girl feel proud of her naturally-beautiful hair and feeling she is able to wear it how she wants. . This story shares the experience of having black hair as a child, which isn’t a perspective we normally hear about, as well as themes of self-acceptance and love.
I Am Enough by Grace Byers. As she reads this empowering short tale, we learn about the struggles of young girls trying to love themselves despite differences in the colour of their skin or bodies.
Sulwe is written and elegantly read by Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o. This is an inspiring story with a powerful meaning behind it. It reads, “You can’t rely on what you look like to make you feel beautiful. Real beauty comes from your mind and your heart. It begins with how you see yourself, not how others see you.” Celebrating our uniqueness and differences is the common theme.
I Am Perfectly Designed, by Karamo Brown. Empowerment is in the idea behind this story that doubles as the perfect mantra for everyone. In this father-son tale, we are reminded that we are all special, important, and that we belong in this world. The author, who is also the Culture Expert of Queer Eye, encourages us to love ourselves one part at a time because we are all perfectly designed.
Firebird, written and read by American Ballet Soloist Misty Copeland, is a story not only for dancers but for anyone needing to be reminded that their work matters. It is a beautifully illustrated story about having faith in yourself and that through dedication and hard work, you can be successful.
Let’s Talk About Race. This is a powerful story that we all need to hear. The author, Julius Lester, highlights the importance of understanding that we are all equal human beings, we just look different (thankfully) and have different stories. It is also a great prequel to his next episode/book, Antiracist Baby, which gives the reader “nine steps to making equity a reality,” (aka how to raise an antiracist child).
Each of these stories encourage us to accept our differences and celebrate our uniqueness. You can also show your support by purchasing these books and keeping them on your child’s shelves or donating them to libraries and schools.
Furthering the representation of black people in children’s literature, a couple in Chicago started the Young Black, & Lit Program. It aims to donate free (mainly children’s) books, which feature Black characters, to schools and families across the city. The couple thought that Black kids deserved more representation in the storybooks they read and found that the program is widening perspectives, educating, and empowering youth!
Co-founder of Young, Black, & Lit, Krenice Roseman, told CNN, “When a child sees themselves reflected in the books that they read and when the books are a mirror to them, they feel valued.”
I'm a creative, passionate individual with an eye for a good story. Find me on my best days drinking coffee, listening to the summer rain, reading about the next wellness trend, or learning about Toronto's cultural hotspots.