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“Combing” Through Representations of Black Girls’ Hair in African American Children’s Literature

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Abstract

In this article, we share findings from a content analysis of six picturebooks about hair. The picturebooks selected feature Black female protagonists and are written by African American females. Our content analysis examines the ways in which Black hair is theorized and represented to children (from diverse backgrounds) very early on in their reading trajectory. We present a discussion of the theoretical perspectives informing our analysis, followed by a review of related African American children’s literary scholarship. We then provide a description of the methodology that includes data sources, analytic procedures, and trustworthiness. Next, we present the findings, in which we delineate the three main themes identified within the six picturebooks. We conclude with reasons as to why this research is significant.

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Correspondence to Jonda C. McNair.

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Jonda C. McNair is associate professor of Literacy Education at Clemson University in South Carolina.

Wanda M. Brooks is associate dean of Teacher Education and associate professor of Literacy Education at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Brooks, W.M., McNair, J.C. “Combing” Through Representations of Black Girls’ Hair in African American Children’s Literature. Child Lit Educ 46, 296–307 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10583-014-9235-x

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