Poet Nikki Grimes features vibrant and self-assured African American girls in her books. Grimes’ depictions of friendship, community, and family are wonderful to behold.
As we have written on several occasions, it is important that children see themselves, and others different from them, in the books they read. In other words, representation matters. Today I want to share the work of Nikki Grimes, who features vibrant and self-assured African Americans girls in her children’s books. Grimes’ depictions of friendship, community, and family are wonderful to behold.
Friendship is the central theme in Grimes’ Danitra Brown trilogy: Meet Danitra Brown, Danitra Brown Leaves Town, and Danitra Brown, Class Clown. Grimes is primarily a poet: all three books, as well as many of her other works, are written in verse.
In Meet Danitra Brown, narrator Zuri Jackson (Danitra's best friend) tells us that Danitra Brown is “the most splendiferous girl in town.” Danitra is courageous, independent, and confident. She “doesn’t mind what people say,” even if they call her “Coke-bottle Brown” because of her thick glasses. Danitra wears purple every day because of the stories her mother has told her about the “queens in Timbuktu” who “all wore purple-never red or green or blue” (what a lovely nod to the power of stories and representation!). Danitra and Zuri are close friends: they ride bikes together, and share ice cream and stories.