20 Books, Movies and TV Shows that Affirm Brown Girls

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By Sundi

When I was in college I remember seeing the study where young African American girls had to choose between a black doll and a white doll and point to which one was good and which one was bad.  The girls routinely chose the black doll as bad and the white doll as good.  It really saddened me to see this, but it wasn’t totally surprising.  If African American girls do not see positive images of themselves on screen or in books, and they only see Caucasian girls or dolls as the standard of beauty and positive behavior, then they will begin to make those associations.

I knew that when I had daughters I wanted to make sure that they were continuously presented with positive images of brown girls that mirrored them.  It may seem superficial to do so, but I think it’s extremely important to make sure that our daughters see reflections of themselves on television, in books, and with the toys they play with.  Doing this, along with affirming them with our own words of encouragement and knowledge sharing is important.

Here are some movies and TV shows that are great for African American girls:

  • The Princess and the Frog
  • Super Why– Princess Presto is an African American princess.
  • Doc McStuffins
  • Polly featuring Keisha Knight Pulliam– an old classic that I absolutely love!
  • Happily Ever After: Fairytales for Every Child featuring remakes of classic fairytales.  12 Dancing Princesses, Hansel and Gretel, and Beauty and the Beast feature African American leading ladies.
    My daughter is 5, and so far, I share books that don’t talk about race directly.  Instead, I like to focus on books that feature African American little girls that look like her, but they’re doing normal things totally unrelated to race.  I’ve read most of these books to my daughter over the past few years, and she loves them.  A few I just discovered and they are wonderful.

    Pre-K to 2nd grade

  • Summer Jackson Grown Up by Theresa E. Harris
  • Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn
  • Little Diva by LaChanze
  • Jump at the Sun fairytale classics such as Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Cinderella, etc., that feature African American leading ladies.
  • Please Baby Please and Please Puppy Please by Spike and Tanya Lee
  • Princess Truly and the Hungry Bunny Problem by Kelly Greenawalt
  • Dancing In the Wings by Debbie Allen
    7 to 12 years old

  • Sugar Plum Ballerinas series by Whoopi Goldberg
  • Ruby and the Booker Boys series by Derrick Barnes
  • Keena Ford books by Melissa Thomson
  • Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon
  • President of the Whole Fifth Grade by Sherri Winston
  • Liberty Porter, First Daughter series by Julia DeVillers
  • Amy Hodgepodge series by Kim Wayans
    As I read, I like to point out things that are similar about the character to my daughter.  I point out how pretty the girls’ curly hair is, or how cute her braids are.  Also how kind she is being to others, or another positive character trait.  I really like to point out the positives in these brown girl characters and relate them to how she is.

    Ladies, what would you add to this list?

    Sundi is a mom of four who lives with her husband outside of Atlanta, Georgia.