Text and pictures copyright © 2018 by Cozbi A. Cabrera. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher, Albert Whitman & Company.

For Elementary Readers

My Hair Is a Garden

Mack gets teased again about her unruly hair and turns to her neighbor Miss Tillie, who helps her learn to care for her hair—and appreciate herself.

Apply in the Classroom

Hairstyles and how hair is cared for and adorned can convey powerful messages about a person’s identity, beliefs, and lifestyle. How you wear your hair can tell a lot about you as a person—and there are a lot of different ways to wear your hair! It’s important to celebrate one another for those differences and appreciate the person for who they are whether they have straight hair, curly hair, wear a hijab, or dreadlocks. Invite local hairstylists and barbers with experience with all types of hair to read My Hair Is a Garden and related titles then discuss with students how to care for different types of hair. Celebrate everyone’s hair with:

  • photographs of the diverse hairstyles in your class/school made into a collage
  • a book created by students that defines and illustrates the hairstyles worn in your school/community
  • a Wacky Hair Day that encourages students to express themselves creatively.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

What do you find beautiful?

Mack wants to get better at taking care of her hair. What is one thing you would like to get better at? Share your plan and timeframe for doing it.

What does it mean to be a neighbor? Share ideas for things people can do to get to know each other.

Have you or anyone you know ever experienced bullying based on how you look?

Related Teaching Resources

BrainPOP Education Resources for Hair

Caring for Hair lesson plan from Teaching Tolerance

Read Aloud Guide for My Hair Is a Garden from Oakland READS

Self-esteem and Body Image lesson from Health Powered Kids

More Titles to Try

Crown: An Ode to a Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes

Crowning Glory by Joyce Carole Thomas

Hairs / Pelitos by Sandra Cisneros
I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, E. B. Lewis

Princess Hair by Sharee Miller

Under My Hijab by Hena Khan

More