Happy to Be Nappy

  1. Title: Happy to Be Nappy
  2. Author: bell hooks
  3. Illustrator/Photographer: Chris Raschka
  4. Number of Pages: 33
  5. Publisher and Year: Hyperion Books, 1999
  6. Genre: Realistic Fiction
  7. Analysis: Happy to Be Nappy is a celebration of all the different hairstyles that Black girls have. Whether long or short, styled or not styled, there is a reason to appreciate all different types of hair.

I view Happy to Be Nappy as a mirror for young Black girls who struggle to see value in themselves when looking at other texts. Representation is important at a young age and when everything around you is shaming natural hair, it is refreshing and uplifting to see a book that encourages being natural. The front cover portrays a young Black girl with her locked hair, hands on hips, and smiling, taking up a big portion of the cover. Next to the little girl is the title, and while the title is big, the little girl is bigger. This framework shows that this little Black girl, or ones like her, are the main focus of the book.

The illustrations in Happy to Be Nappy were drawn with paint. The colors used are very vibrant and alive; the color choice adds to the happy theme in the book. The book also uses a wide variety of colors, which I feel is symbolic of the different types of hair mentioned throughout the story. Happy to Be Nappy also depicts girls throughout the story smiling and having fun. The choice to show the young girls in the story as carefree was another way in which the illustrator could have been reaffirming Black girls that there is joy to be found in themselves.

Happy to Be Nappy does a great job in showing representation for young Black girls who may not otherwise see it in their everyday lives. In a sociology course I took last semester, we discussed the negative portrayal of Black women in the media. Seeing Happy to Be Nappy, by bell hooks, a Black Feminist, I was immediately drawn to this story. Through this book, young Black girls can learn to appreciate the many different styles that comes with having natural hair, as well as, learning to appreciate themselves.

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