Book Reviews, Children's Fiction

Crowned With Glory, A Picture Book Review

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Crowned With Glory, by Dorena Williamson and illustrated by Shellene Rodney, is a beautiful tribute to the magnificent hair that God gave little black girls everywhere, and to the beautiful souls on whom he placed it upon their heads. This rhyming picture book follows little Azira from birth, and through the years as she grows up.

Hello world! I’m a gift from above! I already know that I am loved!

Crowned with Glory shows Azira and her hair, in various stages, from wrapping her hair for bedtime, to sitting in the stylist chair for hours getting braids and Bantu knots to dancing with a pretty headband in her hair, in all its natural, glorious beauty. Not only does Williamson and Rodney do an absolutely lovely job of explaining the nuances of black girl hair and the amount of time and energy it takes to take care of this gift the Lord gave them, it does a wonderful job of showing the cultural importance of their hair. Most importantly, it shows not just how Azira comes to love her hair, but to love herself. It shows Azira accomplishing amazing things as she grows up and it shows the confidence she has as she grows up to be a young woman full of grace who is able to stand firm in her gifts and beliefs. She grows to know that she is wonderfully, uniquely made; created for purpose.

“The Creator crowned me with melanated glory, and everyday I get to live out my beautiful story. “

I am ecstatic that this book has been written. For so long, black boys and girls, and other children of color, were not able to see themselves reflected in the pages of books. My children are 16 and 19 years old. I have taken them to the library since they were born. I cannot recall but a handful of books when they were younger that depicted children of color. They hardly existed. I can tell you that the number of books that had characters who looked like them, white, blond hair and blue eyed, was limitless.

I worked in a public school for ten years in which there was a large population of children of color. I do not know how many children I helped to pick out books, but it was a lot. These kids wanted books where they could see themselves; but books where they could see themselves were scarce. Not because the librarian didn’t stock them, she is an amazing librarian who strives to stock the shelves with diversity; it’s simply because they didn’t exist at that time; not a large selection of them, at any rate.

Those books that did exist, a lot of the time, were books that featured well known black people, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, or famous athletes. Of course, these are extremely important people who should be written about. However, to see books about regular people of color, like themselves, doing regular things? That didn’t happen much. Books that showed black children growing up to be doctors and astronauts? Slim. It took a very long time for black authors of fiction, especially in the children’s market, to get published. They were few and far in between.

That’s extremely sad to me. Children need to see themselves in the world, in print. They need to see that they are special. That they are unique. That there is nothing wrong with them, or the way they look or with the way they sound. They need to see that there is nothing wrong with the language they speak, or the place they come from or the cultures they celebrate. Books are important doorways to this understanding. 

I feel this is incredibly important in today’s society; especially in the United States, where the concept of diversity has become a trigger word; a hot button topic. If I am completely honest, I have been so incredibly disheartened to see folks in the white American evangelical church be dismissive when the topic of race and color have come up these last few years.

“Oh, I don’t see color.” 

“God doesn’t see color.” 

I understand that, a lot of times, these two sayings come from a good place. But, let me just say, friends, the Lord DOES see color, because He CREATED color.  To tell someone that you don’t see their color, or that God doesn’t see their color, is essentially telling that person that you aren’t seeing them the way the Lord created them to be; that you are not acknowledging something that is an essential part of who they are and how the Lord created them to be. That can be hurtful. We are ALL created in HIS image. If God didn’t see color, or didn’t want us to see color, we would all be the same. But, we are not. He created us to be people of a wide range of color and diversities.

Diversity is not a politically made up ideology. Diversity was created by God. What God created is good. We know that scripture tells us what God created for good, the enemy will seek to destroy and use for evil. He doesn’t always destroy through loud, noisy destruction either. He can destroy through subtle, seemingly benign ways, like well meaning words. Words like, “I don’t see color.”

This book is needed today. It’s an amazing  picture book for black children, especially girls, who need to see themselves in between the pages of a book. It’s for little black girls, who are, in 2022, still coming home and telling their mommies to slick down their “bushy” hair because they don’t want to be different. This is a needed story to show them their differences are a gift from above that makes them wonderful; that sets them apart. To know they are loved. 

However, it is not just for little black children. It is for all children who need to learn about people who look differently from them. All children need to know that they can learn from people who look differently than them. 

Finally, it is absolutely, hands down, a great book for adults, as well. I have a tee shirt that says, “You are never too old to read a picture book.” This is so true. I can guarantee you that if you are not a black adult, you will learn from this story. Books are tools for learning. Learning leads to knowledge. Knowledge leads to wisdom.

To grab a copy of this book today, please click here.

*Please note, I received a review copy from Waterbrook Multnomah Kids Publishing. All opinions are my own. 

A beautiful video trailer of Crowned With Glory:

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