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According to the work of Gloria Ladson-Billings, culturally relevant teaching "empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural references to impart knowledge, skills and attitudes."

The books selected for the Rooted and Reading initiative are designed to build cultural awareness and boost social emotional learning. By reading books where African American students can see themselves positively represented, we can begin to create a bridge between students' home and school lives that celebrates, who they are, acknowledges their lived experiences, while reinforcing their cultural values. 
We believe that the 5 competencies of Social Emotional Learning are best understood in both a child development and cultural context; as children do not develop these skills and abilities in a vacuum.

Understanding Social Emotional Learning from a child developmental perspective helps us understand the skills that children should be able to learn and demonstrate at each developmental level. Additionally we must ensure that children are able to learn these skills in age appropriate ways. Not only that, but when we consider a child development perspective, it gives us clues and indicators of a child's capacity to grasp concepts and demonstrate skills. Failing to consider a child's developmental level can impose a set of unrealistic expectations on children that may be impossible for them to meet.

If teachers, therapist and social service professionals set the benchmarks too high, then they may feel that that programs and strategies are not working  and if they set the benchmarks too low, then they may not be appropriately preparing the students to use their skills to navigate difficult social situations they are likely to encounter.

Often left out of the conversation of Social Emotional Learning is the vital role that culture plays in shaping and developing relational expectations, values around decision making, and ideas about identity, connection to self and spirit. Building upon these concepts at an early age is very important for a child's social expression and emotional regulation.

This is why it is imperative to infuse within our understanding of Social Emotional Learning, the knowledge of self as well as a high degree of African American cultural awareness and appreciation.

Not Quite Snow White By Ashley Franklin | Book Review

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We rated this book 5/5 Afropuffs!

"Tameika is a girl who belongs on the stage. She loves to act, sing, and dance—and she’s pretty good at it, too. So when her school announces their Snow White musical, Tameika auditions for the lead princess role.
But the other kids think she’s “not quite” right to play the role. They whisper, they snicker, and they glare. Will Tameika let their harsh words be her final curtain call?

Not Quite Snow White is a delightful and inspiring picture book that highlights the importance of self-confidence while taking an earnest look at what happens when that confidence is shaken or lost. Tameika encourages us all to let our magic shine."  -Amazon.com

We are always on the lookout for books that build cultural competence and boost social emotional learning. When we came across this book at Target we knew this would be the perfect read-a-loud! 

As parents of black and brown girls we understand that you long to see your child's hair texture and skin color reflected in images that represent beauty, power, success and happiness. This is often times due to the fact that as parents, you have the troubling task of explaining to your young daughters that despite the prominent images they see...that they are still beautiful. When black girls are not able to see themselves represented in these ways they can begin to internalize feelings of inferiority or exhibit a level resentment and hatred around the ways in which they show up in the world. Not Quite Snow White written by Ashley Franklin and Illustrated by Ebony Glenn demonstrates, through soft visual imagery and affirming statements, that despite what others may think, you have to belief in yourself! For young girls, this does not mean that the words of others will not hurt, because they will! But Tameika showed how to rise above the criticism of others and still reach for your goals. 

We are happy that Ashley Franklin was able to capture the self-doubt, sadness, and pain that can sometimes exist for black and brown girls who dare to be different and challenge social norms. 

Because of that...we rated this book 5/5 Afro Puffs!

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Social Emotional Learning Domains from the Book: 

  • Self Management
  • Relationship Skills
One of the Social Emotional Learning Domains taught in the book Not Quite Snow White is Self Management, "managing one's emotions and behaviors to achieve one's goals." Tameika displayed sadness, hurt feelings, and confusion in the book. These are often big emotions for children that can turn into anger, rage, or lashing out at others. Children can also become withdrawn or may shut down. Tameika was able to overcome these feelings and discover the positive side of her situation. 

The other Social Emotional Learning Domain taught is Relationship Skills, "dealing effectively with conflict." Tameika could have let the scoffs and remarks of her peers stop her or get her down. She could have yelled at them and called them names. She decided to work even harder to reach her goal. 

We are so excited to feature this book as one of our July Read-a-louds. Be sure to check out our activities link to download our supplemental worksheets. They are designed to help teach these critical Social Emotional Learning skills to your child. 

I Love My Hair | By: Natasha Anastaisa Tarpley

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"In this imaginative evocative story, a girl named Keyana discovers the beauty and magic of her special hair, encouraging black children to be proud of their heritage and enhancing self-confidence." -Amazon.com

"I Love My Hair" is about fully accepting who you are, although it can be a challenging journey. The journey was difficult for Keyana, but eventually, she was able to see the beauty in her authentic self. This book is important because it teaches young girls the importance of embracing themselves, to be proud of who they are and where they come from.

"I Love My Hair" by Natasha Anastaisa Tarpley is a good read because it teaches young girls about self-acceptance and fully embracing who they are. It shows young girls that your hair can be their crown no matter the length, style, or texture. What matters the most is that they love who you are, even when others do not.

We love the messages in the book and rate it 5/5 afro puffs! 

Queen of the Scene| By Queen Latifah

"This little ruler of the playground has got game. Basketball, stickball, jump–rope, soccer–there's nothing she won't try. And watch out, boys, because she's representing all the ladies and has girl power to the max." -Amazon.com

Being "Queen of the Scene" means to always walk tall, and be confident and fearless. It is important always to have a positive mindset in all that you do because you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.

"Queen of the Scene" is a good read because it shows young girls not to place any limitations on themselves because they can do anything they put their minds to. It also teaches young girls that nothing is too big to be accomplished. 


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This worksheet is a great tool to use after reading the book. It can help children explore their own abilities and areas where they are highly  confident.  It also helps young girls know, that they can do anything and don't have to be limited by gender roles.  

Coretta Scott

The celebrated poetry of Ntozake Shange and the beautiful illustrations of Kadir Nelson captures the spirit of the civil rights era.


"Walking many miles to school in the dusty road, young Coretta Scott knew the unfairness of life in the segregated south. A yearning for equality began to grow. Together with Martin Luther King, Jr., she gave birth to a vision of change through nonviolent protest. It was the beginning of a journey—with dreams of freedom for all." -Amazon.com

Portraits of African American Heros | Martin Luther King Jr.

"Here, ideal for African-American History Month, is a stunningly beautiful book consisting of portraits-in pictures and words-of twenty outstanding African-Americans. The individuals range from historical to contemporary figures, such as the dancer Judith Jamison, and represent diverse fields of endeavor, from the law (Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall) to athletics, science, and more. For each individual, there is a three-page biography by the noted author Tonya Bolden and a striking black-and-white portrait that captures not only the subject's likeness but is a work of art in itself. A book to inspire, to teach, or to display, with its large trim size and striking design, it is as handsome as it is important." -Amazon.com

My Brother Martin by Christine King Farris

"Long before he became a world-famous dreamer, Martin Luther King Jr. was a little boy who played jokes and practiced the piano and made friends without considering race. But growing up in the segregated south of the 1930s taught young Martin a bitter lesson -- little white children and little black children were not to play with one another. Martin decided then and there that something had to be done. And so he began the journey that would change the course of American history." - Amazon.com

To listen to this book