Hair Love

by Matthew Cherry, Illustrations by Vashti Harrison

by Matthew Cherry, Illustrations by Vashti Harrison


Based on Matthew Cherry’s animated short of the same name, Hair Love, celebrates the relationship between a father and daughter while also celebrating Black hair. Zuri’s mom has been away, and she wants an extra special hairstyle to welcome her home. With daddy’s help and after a few tries, this daddy daughter duo work to make the special occasion special indeed.  Vashti Harrison’s illustrations illuminate how wonderful this Black family is.

Genre  - realistic fiction
Text Structure – picture book
Themes – self-love, family, father-daughter relationships, Black family love/values, the beauty of Black hair.

Rings of Culture Represented

Ethnicity: black
Age: 5+
Gender: girl

Why It’s Culturally Authentic

•It validates and affirms Black hair, hair styles, hair freedom and hair love.

•The text and illustrations challenge stereotypes about Black men and Black families

•It shows a contemporary relationship between a Black father and his daughter doing everyday things that many children will connect with and relate to.

•Several elements on the Iceberg of Culture are reflected in the text including:

•Facial expressions

•Concepts of beauty

•Concept of self

•Work ethic

•Notions of child rearing

Ideas for CLR -

Set it Off (Into the Text)

Journal Prompt + Musical Shares + Put Somebody on Blast

  1. Give students the prompt below and ask them to take a Moment of Silence to think about or write down their response.

    What is something that a parent or caregiver helps you with when you need help?

  2. After they have had about 1-2 minutes to think and/or write their response, ask them to stand up for Musical Shares. Put on a song that students like, something that is relevant to them culturally (think age culture, ethnic culture, national culture). While the music is playing, they should walk-dance (wance) around the room. When the music stops, they should stop, and turn to a person(s) closest to them and share their response, then listen to their partners response. Give them 30-45 seconds to share and then turn the music on again. Repeat 2-3 times so that they get to share with several classmates. Make sure to remind them to talk not just to their friends but also to people they don’t talk to often. Then let them wance back to their seats

  3. Next, let them “Put Someone on Blast” this is calling someone out for a GOOD reason. If they heard an answer they really liked or thought was interesting, they say “I would like to put ________ on blast”. Then that student shares what they said, or the student who called on them can share, either way works. Show both students some love with clapping or other celebration “raise the roof” etc and move on to another student, until 3-4 students have been “Put On Blast”

The Get Down (Through the Text)

Teacher Read Aloud + Emoji Stop & Jot + Pick a Stick

  1. Have all students sit on carpet and give each student a white board, marker and eraser.

  2. Read the text aloud to students, pausing at various spots in the text and have them Stop and Jot an emoji response to the prompt. See the Stop and Jot sample below.

  3. After a few seconds, have them raise their boards in the air so everyone can see each others emojis.

  4. Pick a Stick - for some of the prompts, Pick a Stick and ask students to either share/explain the emoji they drew, or give them the option of asking a classmate a question about an emoji they drew.

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Sample Stop and Jot Prompt

Look at the picture and think for a moment. Draw an emoji that describes how Zuri might be feeling right now while her dad is working hard to do her hair. (depending on your students, you can display several emojis for them to choose from. They don’t have to just be faces, but other well know emojis as well.)

Lydia McClanahan