Okay, let’s talk hair!
I came across this children’s book called Bedtime Bonnet by Nancy Redd, and I thought it was too cute. After thinking about it for a bit, I decided to buy it and check it out. (Yes, I bought a children’s book, and I have absolutely no regrets. 😜) Can I just say that this is the book every little Black girl needs in her life! It’s such an adorable story, and if you’re a parent with a daughter, I highly recommend it. I promise it’ll make the perfect bedtime story! Here’s my quick little review of it.
When I first heard about Bedtime Bonnet, I was pretty stoked. I thought it was cool that someone took the time to write a children’s book about the Black culture’s nighttime hair traditions. It was different, and so I really, really wanted it! It was such a heartwarming story that was easy to read, and everything felt so familiar and real. Not to mention the illustration is BOMB!
The story is basically about how this little girl loses her nighttime bonnet before she’s about to go to bed, and she asks everyone in the family to help her look for it. She’s all wigged out because nobody can seem to find it anywhere, and she can’t go to sleep without her bonnet. She says wearing her bonnet to bed is as important as brushing her teeth. And if you wear a bonnet, durag, satin wrap, or whatever to bed, you’ll know how true that is. You’ll also understand the struggle of not being able to find it before going to bed. That’s the literal worrrrrrst, especially when you’re already exhausted and just want to sleep. 😩
Redd was inspired to write Bedtime Bonnet because of her frustration by the lack of resources she encountered when introducing a bonnet to her daughter’s bedtime routine. Her daughter didn’t like wearing one to bed because she’d never seen it represented on cartoons or television. Other children weren’t wearing them, and she thought they were just for old people. Since writing Bedtime Bonnet, Redd’s daughter loves her hair, and her opinion about bonnets has changed.
I loved everything about this book and how it normalizes the Black nighttime hair traditions. Growing up, I’ve seen it all; the handkerchiefs, the hair rollers, the wrapping of the hair, sitting between my mom’s legs to get my hair braided. This book actually brought on a little bit of nostalgia for me! It was so satisfying to read a children’s book and truly relate to it. I would for sure read Bedtime Bonnet to my future children.
Before hearing about Bedtime Bonnet, a friend of mine told me about the animated short film Hair Love a little while ago. I watched it, fell in love with it, and I’m just now learning that it was initially a book! It’s a beautiful story about a father learning how to do his daughter’s hair for the first time, and it gave me all the feels. Not only because it was so touching, but also I enjoyed seeing Black hair represented in the media. Little Black girls need to see themselves represented, and I think books like Bedtime Bonnet and Hair Love are doing an excellent job at doing that. A lot of Black girls grow up hating their hair because they don’t often see it positively represented in the media or books. Not to mention that society makes it seem like Black natural hair isn’t presentable, which is totally untrue! I feel like these kinds of children’s books will give little Black girls the confidence they need to be the queens that they are. 👑
Honestly, having books like Bedtime Bonnet and Hair Love would’ve been great for my younger self. Even back then, I loved to read, and I know I would’ve enjoyed those kinds of books. I remember not liking my hair when I was little because I thought it was too nappy, ugly, and short. I had a lot of Hispanic and white friends then, and I was always so jealous of their long, silky, straight hair. I even remember telling my mom that I wished I was Hispanic because I wanted hair like theirs. I wanted to be able to run my fingers easily through my hair, like how I could do with theirs. It seemed so much easier to care for.
Let me tell you I DREADED getting my hair done when I was little. It was literally such a pain because of how thick my hair was, and it didn’t help that I was tender-headed. The actual washing of my hair was kind of a blur, to be honest, but I’ll never forget the times when my mom hot combed my hair. Christ Almighty, I hated that hot comb and how much it burned my scalp! My mom accidentally burned my temple with it once, and it left a giant scab. That was no fun. I also remember cutting my hair one time, so I wouldn’t have to get it done. Ooh, was I in big trouble when my mom saw!
I am 23 years old, and I am just now starting to genuinely love and embrace my hair. It definitely took a lot of learning and getting used to, but I wouldn’t want my hair any other way. This quarantine life has got me practicing twist outs and wash n go’s, and it’s helped me learn to be a little more patient with my hair. Guess what? I freakin’ love my curls and shrinkage now! Black hair is so beautiful, and seeing it represented in books and movies makes me feel even more proud to show off my hair.
When writing this post, I got excited and searched for more children’s books that celebrate Black hair. I found a whole list of them here. I may or may not (but probably will) be ordering a few of these! Thanks so much for reading!