It can be long, short, straight, curly, red, brown, blond, or rainbow, easily controlled or with a mind of its own. It can also be absent, abundant or covered. It's hair! These inclusive children's books about hair celebrate the glorious mane in all its diverse, wonderful and fascinating manifestations.
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Picture Books about Hair
These children's picture books about hair are good choices to read aloud in a classroom or at home. The books encourage children to develop an attitude of inclusivity, support children's self-confidence, teach body positivity and help them see hair as positive self-expression.
I LOVE MY HAIR by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and E. B. Lewis
No book list about hair love would be complete without Tarpley's modern classic! Keyana describes the love with which her mother tends to her hair every night. She acknowledges that the brushing can be painful, but her mother encourages her to think of her hair as beautiful. Thus begins an utterly delightful and imaginative narration of the types of hair styles she can wear. Tarpley also wrote Bibbity Bop Barbershop about a boy's first trip to the barbershop.
DALIA'S WONDROUS HAIR / EL CABELLO MARAVILLOSO DE DALIA by Laura Lacamara
This whimsical, bilingual story is set in Cuba. Dalia wakes one morning to find her hair has magically grown sky-high. Dalia then proceeds to add items from the natural world into her hair and turns it into quite a mess, or so others tell her. Before going to bed, she wraps her hair up and by morning it has transformed into a butterfly garden. The joy of this book is Dalia's delight in doing whatever she wants to her hair and reveling in the results!
THE GOOD HAIR DAY Christian Trimmer, illustrated by J. Yang
Noah is making a long list of what he wants for his birthday, but he doesn't feel brave enough to ask for the one thing he really wants. He goes for a haircut and is devastated when he gets a buzzcut. Afterwards, he puts a shirt on his head, imagining that he has long hair, instead. His loving family comes to understand Noah's unspoken wish and give him the perfect birthday gift.
MY FADE IS FRESH by Shauntay Grant, illustrated by Kitt Thomas
This rhyming, up-beat book is fun to read aloud. A girl heads into a barbershop where everyone suggests various hairstyles for her to choose from. However, she knows what she wants and stays true to herself. She wants a fade and she wants it fresh!
WANDA THE BRAVE by Sihle-Isipho Nontshokweni, illustrated by Chantelle and Burgen Thorne
Wanda goes to her Aunty Ada's hair salon in South Africa. Wanda wants a particular braided hairstyle but Ada wants to straighten Wanda's hair. When the chemicals start to burn her scalp, Wanda and her friend, who has come to the salon with her, speak up for themselves. They relate how others make fun of their natural hair but they still don't want the chemical straighteners.
HAIR LOVE by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
This wonderful picture book shows that dads can try new things too! Zuri's dad can problem solve, fix hair and bond with his daughter all at the same time. Zuri's hair "has a mind of its own," and she needs help. Lucky for her, dad steps up to the plate. After a few failed tries, Zuri shows him the products and the how-to video he needs to get things right. When mom comes home, she is mighty impressed. Joyful! You can also watch the Oscar-winning short film of Hair Love on YouTube here.
HAIR TWINS Raakhee Mirchandani, illustrated by Holly Hatam
This is a wonderful story about a father and daughter bonding over a shared hairstyle. (I bet you can count on one hand the books which are about that subject!) Father and daughter both wear their hair in the Sikh tradition. The girl describes how somedays they wear it long, other days their hair is tied up and in a bun–his under a turban. When they visit the park, the scene includes a diverse range of families and hairstyles.
MY HAIR IS MAGIC! by M. L. Marroquin, illustrated by Tonya Engel
A girl celebrates her hair in this empowering story. I really love the way the narrator expresses confidence in her appearance and asserts her own agency. Her hair is big and magical and she loves it! She describes her hair in emotional terms and details questions people sometimes ask her about it, as well as her answers. A delightful and joyful book that shares the power of hair as self-expression.
BEDTIME BONNET by Nancy Redd, illustrated by Nneka Myers
Many parents are familiar with the struggle that ensues when trying to convince their child of the benefits of wearing a hat on a sunny day. I imagine there might be a similar tussle when a toddler is faced with wearing a bonnet to protect their hair at bedtime. Fortunately, parents have this lovely picture book ode to the bedtime bonnet! All the members of a family, from dad to grandma, wear a bonnet or head wrap to bed. When a girl's bonnet goes missing, the whole family joins in the search to find it.
CROWN: ODE TO A FRESH CUT by Derrick Barnes
I absolutely love this book and its energetic illustrations. A strong, rhythmic text describes a boy going into the barbershop and the experience of getting a new, fresh haircut and all the excitement that surrounds the possibilities of what a new haircut might bring–such as a look from a girl, or acing an exam.
DON'T TOUCH MY HAIR by Sharee Miller
Our narrator, Aria, has a gorgeous head of hair. It's so beautiful that everyone wants to touch it. But, as Aria explains, she doesn't like it when they do. Miller uses humor to show all the ways Aria evades the outstretched hands that attempt to reach her hair. The illustrations are dynamic and full of comedic detail.
MY POWERFUL HAIR by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Steph Littlebird
An Indigenous girl narrates her experience waiting for her hair to grow long. She describes how her mother and grandmother were denied long hair for different reason. However, the narrator knows that hair is a source of power, memories, connection and strength for Native peoples. The woodcut illustrations are marvelous. Back matter gives more information on the importance of hair in Indigenous cultures and the history behind White people's attempt to erase Native culture by cutting their hair.
PRINCESS HAIR by Sharee Miller
I love this celebration of hair! The colorful, happy illustrations and text share the joy of all different types of hair, both natural and styled!
MY HAIR IS A GARDEN by Cozbi A. Cabrera
Mackenzie is teased by her classmates for her unruly hair but finds comfort and direction from her neighbor, Miss Tillie. I love the way Mackenzie learns to treasure her black hair. In the endnotes, there is even a hair care guide and recipes for natural hair products.
WHAT'S SILLY HAIR DAY WITH NO HAIR? by Norene Paulson, illustrated by Camila Carrossine
There is definitely a need for some good, widely available, books about kids with alopecia. Bea's school is planning a Silly Hair Day during Spirit Week, and Bea is feeling left out. All her hair fell out when she was 4 and she doesn't know if it will ever grow back. A friend tries to be supportive and the two girls try and reject a range of ideas. Finally, a change to Silly Hair Day offers a solution.
UNDER MY HIJAB by Hena Khan, illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel
What a delightful book filled with strong female role models! A girl narrates her observations of how six women in her life wear (or don't wear) the hijab. The women are shown in a variety of occupations both at work and at home. At the end of the book, the narrator tries on her own hijab and looks forward to her future and how and when she will wear the hijab over her hair.
MOMMY'S KHIMAR by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Ebony Glenn
Find it: Amazon
A young girl admires the scarves her mother wears to cover her hair. She takes joy in looking through the closet, dancing with them, trying them on and imagining the possibilities of when she will wear her own. No matter what the reader's background, every child will see themselves in the young narrator as she celebrates the khimar and the loving relationship she has with her mother.
BEAR'S BRAID/KuūNUx Saripiíšu̕ by Joelle Bearstail, illustrated by Denise Ta
I loved this story of Bear and his friend, Ben, two Indigenous boys with long braids. At school, Bear is bullied because of his hair, but when he confides in his grandmother, she relates to him the important role of hair in their culture and history. Together, Bear and Ben come up with a culture-sharing project that will help their classmates understand why they take pride in their cultural traditions. I also really loved all the photographs of real-life people sporting their braids in the end note! If this book is not at your library, I hope you put in a request that that obtain a copy!
COWLICK! by Christin Ditchfield, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw
Find it: Your library | Amazon
As someone who has one large cowlick at the very front of my forehead and one equally large on on the back of my head, I could not resist this short, whimsical bedtime story. At night, while two brothers sleep soundly, a cow sneaks into their room and licks their hair. When they awake, their "once flat hair" is now "standing tall!"
MY RAINBOW by Trinity and Deshanna Nea, illustrated by Art Twink
Trinity is autistic and although she wants to have long hair, she hates the way it feels when it touches her neck. Fortunately, she has a supportive mom who works with Trinity's older sibling to create a beautiful, rainbow wig for Trinity. The story also addresses gender expression and is based on the relationship and experiences of the mother-daughter authors.
MAGIC LIKE THAT by Samara Cole Doyon, illustrated by Geneva Bowers
As a girl waits for her mother to style her hair, she describes all the different hairstyles she sometimes sports. She likens each one to natural phenomenon, expressing wonder and how marvelous her hair transformations are.
STELLA'S STELLAR HAIR by Yesenia Moises
This book is so fun! Stella has aunties all over the galaxy and when it's time to style her hair for the Big Star Little Gala, she goes to visit each one in search of the perfect hairstyle. An author's note describes the best hairstyle for the environment on each of the planetary locations Stella visited.
THE HAIR OF ZOE FLEEFENBACHER GOES TO SCHOOL by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Ard Hoyt
Zoe's hair has a mind of its own. It can perform amazing tasks like petting the cat, pouring a glass of juice, or turning on the TV. This year, Zoe's teacher has declared that unruly hair is not to be tolerated, but taming Zoe's hair is easier said than done. When Zoe's hair interferes with a school science lesson, it's the teacher who learns a thing or two. Great fun and wonderful illustrations!
STEPHANIE'S PONYTALE by Robet Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Stephanie is a trendsetter whether she wants to be or not. Stephanie notices that none of her peers wears their hair in a ponytail so she decides that will be her hairstyle of choice. But the very next day, all the other kids have their hair pulled back in the same fashion. So Stephanie changes her look... and so do all the other kids. You can see where this is going. Things get a little out of hand, but Stephanie finds a way to fool them all. It's a surprise ending that will have your kids either giggling or gasping–perhaps both!
BAGHEAD Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Giving oneself a bad haircut is a universal experience. We've all done it, even if it's just our bangs. Krosoczka's funny tale of a boy who decides that a bag over the head is the only solution to his botched handiwork. No one at home or school thinks this is a good idea, but he persists. When he finally reveals why he is wearing a bag on his head, his sister comes up with the perfect (or at least, the most "doable") solution.
MELISSA PARKINGTON’S BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL HAIR by Pat Brisson, illustrated by Suzanne Bloom
Melissa is tired of everyone admiring her hair. She wants to be appreciated for more than just her long, black locks. She tries out new activities that she hopes will win her more meaningful praise like art, sports, and helping others. Then, when she sees a hair salon asking for donations to make wigs for children who have trouble growing their own hair, Melissa knows just what to do.
HAIR FOR MAMA by Kelly Tinkham, illustrated Amy Bates
Find it: Your Library | Amazon
Sometimes hair takes on an emotional resonance we aren't expecting. In Hair for Mama, Marcus' mama has lost her hair due to chemotherapy treatments and she wants to skip the annual family portrait. Marcus hopes to find a solution, yet it isn't so easy. His mama, however, recognizes her son's love and instead of letting him down, wraps her head in a gele for the photo.
Many of the picture books on this list give some historical and cultural context about hair. Add in these nonfiction books about hair to your reading for further learning!
HAIR!: ANIMAL FUR, WOOL, AND MORE by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Julie Colombet
For kids who love to learn about nature and biology, Singer's book will show them how to place their human hair in the grand scheme of the natural world. Photographs, speech bubbles, direct questions and "Trivial Fursuit," make this an engaging and interactive read.
WONDERFUL HAIR: THE BEAUTY OF ANNIE MALONE by Eve Nadel Catarevas, illustrated by Felicia Marshall
This picture book biography introduces readers to, Annie Turnbo Malone who ran her own hair products business. Malone was the first self-made African-American female millionaire. Malone saw that Black women were suffering harm to their scalps from beauty products that weren't designed for Black hair and so she started a line of hair products, beginning with the fabulously named, "Wonderful Hair Grower." Readers will be inspired by Malone's perseverance and her insistence of the dignity of Black women.
Tween readers of middle grade books can enjoy these books where the protagonists learn to control (literally and figuratively) their hair!
FRIZZY by Claribel A. Ortega, illustrated by Rose Bousamra
Marlene hates going to the hair salon to have her hair straightened. Her mother insists that Marlene tame her frizzy hair into "good hair." Marlene resents how others judge her natural hair, but she doesn't know how to style it. Enter her Tía Ruby, who also has a head full of boisterous curls. Tía Ruby empowers Marlene with instructions and products to help her wear her hair the way she wants. This revelation is followed by another which helps bring Marlene and her mother closer together. This wonderful graphic novel isn't just about one girl's battle with society's beauty standards, it's a window into how kids can learn to speak up for themselves.
ONYEKA AND THE ACADEMY OF THE SUN (series) by Tọlá Okogwu
The Onyeka series is excellent for readers who are fans of Percy Jackson. Onyeka has always had big hair that seems to have a mind of its own, but one day when her friend is in trouble, her hair reveals its true power. Onyeka's mother tells her that, like her father, she is actually a Solari and she must leave England to attend the Academy of the Sun in Nigeria, where Solari are trained how to use their powers.