For over 20 years I have shopped at Brett Hewitt’s Positive Vibes store in Virginia Beach. One of the key things I know I can find in his store are wonderful books for African American children. Positive Vibes has a wide selection of books that I have given as gifts for nephews, nieces and friend’s children. In this episode I want to feature four children’s books I purchased from Brett’s store.

Let’s start with Natasha Anastasia Tarpley’s “I Love My Hair”. This is an excellent book for a parent of an infant. In this story Keyana’s mother tells her all the ways that her hair is special and then Kenyana talks about the way she enjoys her different hair styles. The pictures and the story capture the loving relationship between Kenyana and her mother. This is a very short book that will be a favorite story for a child. The adult reading the story to a child will enjoy it and will love reading it to a child as much as the child will love reading it.

“I Love My Hair” has very thick pages so it can survive a little child’s handling and chewing. The watercolor artwork by illustrator E. B. Lewis are wonderful and each picture captures the love and joy expressed in the story.

I love the way this book celebrates the beauty of a black girls’ hair. This is an excellent gift for the parent of an infant girl.

The next book is Crystal Swain-Bates “I’m A Big Brother”. The story focuses on the new world a young boy enters when his parents bring home his new baby brother. The new big brother tells us all the unique things about his new baby brother. Also, the differences between the baby and the older boy are described. It ends with the new big brother realizing that he will be a great big brother.

This is a useful book for parents of a small child and they have a new baby on the way. The illustrations feature a friendly family of African American, so children will see themselves in this book. I can see a parent using this story to prepare a child for the new role of big brother.

Another book I purchased from Positive Vibes is Margaree King Mitchell’s “Uncle Jed’s Barbershop is a wonderful story of perseverance, history and family love. The story follows Sarah Jean’s beloved Uncle Jedediah and his lifelong desire to own his own barber shop. While telling this story, Margaree Mitchell share the history of the mid 1900’s for African American families. This is a wonderful book for young readers because there is so much captured in this short story.

Not only will the reader get a picture of life in the past, you will see how black families worked together to make it through tough times and share the good times. This love is captured in the story and illustrations by James Ransome. Each page and illustration will bring back memories of beloved family members who played key roles in our lives. This is such a wonderful book. Anyone who reads this will be touched by this story of family love.

Finally, I want to talk about Tonya Bolden’s book “Maritcha – A Nineteenth-Century American Girl”. Ms. Bolden came across a memoir of Maritcha Remond Lyons who was born 1848 in Manhattan New York. This is a fascinating look at the life of a black family through the eyes of Maritcha during this period of history. It is great that it features a view of black life in the 1800’s that is different from the life of rural black people in the south.

Tonya Bolden makes use of photos and illustrations from the time period to reinforce the story and make it real. This is a great book to share with a child. You will see the love of this family and perseverance in the face of life shattering tragedy. Tonya Bolden brings this valuable memoir to an audience of young readers and this will encourage further exploration into African American history.

If you are in the area, stop by Positive Vibes and see all the great books and say hi to Brett. He has been committed to connecting African American with products that reflect their culture and history. Go to Brett's site and use the contact form to let him know about a book you want.

Positive Vibes

6220 Indian River Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23464

(757) 523-1399

Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl
Uncle Jed's Barbershop
I'm a Big Brother
I Love My Hair!

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