I Love My Hair
I Am Enoguh
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
ABCs For Girls Like Me
I Am Perfectly Desgined
Pretty Brown Face and Brown Boy Joy
Let’s Talk About Race
The Day You Begin
Two of the best books I’ve ever read happen to be The Color Purple and To Kill A Mockingbird. The latter actually encouraged me to be a writer after the story touched me so profoundly. I also stand by the fact this book should be compulsory reading in school. (At our school it was the choice between Mockingbird or Of Mice and Men). There’s a real joy that comes from reading and any show celebrating authors around the world gets my vote.
Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices is the latest Netflix series that celebrates black authors. With a mixed bunch of stories read and a lighthearted but important tone, Bookmarks is light, easy viewing that kids are sure to love.
This series uses the success of CBeebies Bedtime Story and presents its material in much the same way. Each chapter introduces a brief overview to the book being read and the celebrity reading it. There’s a lot of cut-away animations, large illustrations from the book and random tidbits of dialogue designed to encourage more interactivity from the audience. Some episodes get this balance spot on – with Grace Byers a particular favourite. Other times – like Common and Tiffany Haddish – the interjecting dialogue destroys the ebb and flow of the book.
Most of the stories play off the same themes of togetherness, loving yourself and belonging. A few of the chosen examples are a little subjective though. “The Antiracist Baby” is honestly one of the most bizarre board-books I’ve seen. While the message is welcome, the lexical choices are completely alienating to kids and plays out more like a PowerPoint presentation.
I Love My Hair is another problematic book too, with the first 3 pages showing a child in pure agony getting their hair done. To be honest, the rest of the book is beautifully illustrated and joyous but these first few pages feel like a weird juxtaposition against the joy of getting your hair done.
Despite these issues, Bookmarks is well worth watching with the little ones. It has all the hallmarks of what makes Bedtime Story so effective but builds a platform around cultural appreciation. The book content and format is great and really helps bring that joyful feel of reading back into the conversation. The idea of adding black celebrities is a smart one too and reinforces the notion that we can truly achieve anything we set our minds to.
Personally Bedtime Story is still the better option for kids but given Netflix’s international reach, Bookmarks is a worthy runner-up and bound to attract more views. It’s an easily digestible series that’s perfect for winding down the little ones before bed. With each episode clocking in at around 10 minutes or so, it’s probably best to throw this on around that time and watch a few episodes snuggled up on the sofa. With some nice presentation and a really important tone, this is a great inclusion on Netflix and well worth checking out with the kids.