Monday, December 23, 2019

December #cbadspotlight - Spotlight on Don't Touch My Hair! with Author/Illustrator Sharee Miller

Today I'm shining the spotlight on 
Sharee Miller,
author/illustrator of #cbadspotlight pick 
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An entertaining picture book that teaches the importance of asking for permission first as a young girl attempts to escape the curious hands that want to touch her hair.

It seems that wherever Aria goes, someone wants to touch her hair. In the street, strangers reach for her fluffy curls; and even under the sea, in the jungle, and in space, she’s chased by a mermaid, monkeys, and poked by aliens…until, finally, Aria has had enough!

Author-illustrator Sharee Miller takes the tradition of appreciation of black hair to a new, fresh, level as she doesn’t seek to convince or remind young readers that their curls are beautiful–she simply acknowledges black beauty while telling a fun, imaginative story. 

Thank you, Sharee for joining me for a #cbadspotlight interview today!

1. What was your inspiration for writing this book? / What was your inspiration for the illustrations in this book?  

Don’t Touch My Hair was inspired by my own experiences. I had recently transitioned back to my natural unprocessed hair and noticed people were very interested in how it looked and felt. It wasn’t only happening to me but a lot of black women were sharing their stories online. As an adult I felt frustrated by this and I imagined it must be even worse for children who didn’t know they could set their own personal boundaries. So I set out to make a book to teach kids about consent a lighthearted fun way.

When it came to the illustrations I wanted the book to still feel bright, colorful and fun so that all the hands didn’t feel scary but you could still feel Aria’s discomfort.

2. What message do you hope kids (of all ages) take away from this book?

Consent is something I think we all need to learn at an early age. I hope kids can empathize with Aria and be able to see how their actions make other people feel in the real world. Even if they don’t have Aria’s problem we’ve all felt the discomfort of having our space invaded. I hope being aware of that feeling will make them think about how they interact with their friends, families and even strangers.

3. What was your writing & revision process like for this story? / What was your process for creating & revising the illustrations for this story?

Writing is the hardest part for me. I always want to rush to the drawing first but it was fun to think up silly situations for Aria to get stuck in. Those were the funniest scenes to draw and write. The revision process was pretty painless because I had been working on the story for over a year so I was used to writing and rewriting it. Every time I got closer to the final draft I could see it all coming together and it was very satisfying. 

4. Was there any part of the process where you worked together on the vision for this book?

I didn’t have a cover in mind when I created Don’t Touch My Hair so it was fun to collaborate on how to represent the story on the cover. It is the first thing the reader sees and I wanted it to draw people in and want to read the story. My editor helped me not put the entire story on the cover. Just enough to hint at what the story is about.

5. What is your favorite part of making picture books? 

My favorite part is seeing it all come together. I work in watercolor and paint some pieces in stages that I combine on the computer. This is all planned in my head so I don’t know how it will look until I edit it. I love to see the pieces fit together and then when they add the text it finally feels like a real book! It’s so exciting!

6. #cbadspotlight is putting the spotlight on inclusive #ownvoices books. What can you share with students about the connection you have to this book or the choices you made while writing/illustrating it to add diverse representation?

Growing up I rarely saw books with characters that looked like me or had hair like mine. If I did I found it hard to relate to them. I think of this every time I write. I want to make characters that represent, me and my family and friends. By creating books through my unique perspective I feel like I am adding another piece to the puzzle of representation so someone else who experiences the world like I do can feel seen. I make it a point to have diverse characters in all of my books because that is what my community looks like

7. #classroombookaday is a goal to read aloud a picture book every day of the school year to students at any grade. What would you like to say to the teachers who are taking on this challenge?

Thank you for inspiring future readers. Reading a book a day is a great way to be introduced to all kinds of books and brings a reader closer to finding what they like to read!

Be sure to check out all of the #cbadspotlight choices for this school year!
Visit for more information on #classroombookaday,
a goal to read aloud a picture book every day of the school year, at any grade,
inspired by Donalyn Miller's #bookaday.

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