ATLANTA, (CBS46) – Kindergartners at Deerwood Academy were encouraged to love their hair and love themselves. It’s one of many messages in the new book ‘Hair Love.’
The kids were treated to a special reading by the author Matthew A. Cherry and illustrator Vashti Harrison.
“We have such complicated histories with our hair i think the younger we can start them loving their hair the better,” Cherry said.
The influx of viral videos of African American fathers doing their daughters' hair was the inspiration for the book.
He said it was important to show the bond between an African American girl and her father.
“I just wanted to normalize it.,” he said. “I think nowadays dads and moms you have to split the responsibility. So if mom has to leave early for something dad has to step up and figure out how to do it,” he said.
The book follows seven-year-old Zuri as she tries to find the right hairstyle.
Eventually with help from her dad Steven – and a little trial and error – she does.
Harrison said despite the topic, many will find the book relatable.
“We're definitely thinking about ways can engage with the story even though it's a specific story about this one dad and his daughter there are things they can connect to,” she said.
The event was sponsored by ‘Page Turners Make Great Learners which encourages kids to read.
Principal Camisha Perry said the reading was a great opportunity for her students to see that if they dream big, they can be anything.
Cherry, a filmmaker, is also a former NFL player.
“A lot of elementary students especially our boys, would like to be a football player or a basketball player,” said Perry. “But what Mr. Cherry is showing them that you can be an athlete but you can also be a scholar and there are other things you can do with your abilities.”
Cherry and Harrison have been on a national book tour.
Sony Pictures Animation is working on a film version of the book which is set to hit the big screen this fall.
Harrison said it’s been fun seeing the reactions.
“It's really nice to just be in front of the people who are actually reading the books and engaging with them.,” she said. “To hear them laugh at the things that I’m drawing is incredible.”