The best children’s book of 2020 is about bonnets and durags (and we love it)

When a mom got tired of her daughter lacking hair representation, she put her story in a book.

“Bedtime Bonnet” (Random House 2020)


Black families bond over a lot of things, but when it comes to hair care, nothing is more universal than the nighttime headscarf.

Whether you’re greasing your child’s edges, brushing waves or twisting their locs before bed, the routine is one of necessity but also love.

Now, a forthcoming children’s book gives readers a look at the cultural tradition of wearing a bonnet and durag through the eyes of a little Black girl going to bed with her family.

As the first-ever mainstream picture book to highlight black nighttime haircare rituals, it’s a simple yet revolutionary story — the perfect read before sending your kids to sleep.

The idea for the book came from NAACP Image Award nominee and New York Times bestselling author Nancy Redd, whose own struggles trying to get her young daughter to wear a bonnet over her curls before bedtime, inspired her to create a book that normalized the experience as essential and beautiful.

“Bedtime Bonnet” author Nancy Redd

“There’s no shame in our bonnet game!” Redd tells theGrio in an exclusive interview. “I wrote BEDTIME BONNET for parents and kids to have a relatable resource that provides positive representation of our omnipresent nighttime hair rituals to help us
all proudly embrace (and wear) our durags, scarves, wave caps, bonnets, and other protective hairstyles.”

Redd isn’t new to writing narratives that disrupt the status quo in nontraditional ways, and her latest book provides context for Black haircare in a way that is lighthearted and fun.

Bedtime Bonnet is also full of colorful and eye-popping illustrations, with characters in all shades of melanin by Canadian illustrator, Nneka Myers.  You may recognize Myers’ illustrations from the Facebook stickers messenger app and emoji keyboard.

“Bedtime Bonnet” Illustrator, Nneka Myers

theGrio got an exclusive look inside Bedtime Bonnet and the narration of its young protagonist, revealing the diversity of styles represented in the book:

In my family, when the sun goes down, our hair goes up!
My brother slips a durag over his locs.
Sis swirls her hair in a wrap around her head.
Daddy covers his black waves with a cap.
Mama gathers her corkscrew curls in a scarf.
I always wear a bonnet over my braids, but tonight I can’t find it anywhere!

At a time when African-American hair is arguably being more celebrated than ever via social media and scrutinized (many states have had to pass hair anti-discrimination laws, and schools have passed rules barring many common Black hairstyles), children’s books like Bedtime Bonnet are powerful.

This affirming picture book should be on the shelf of every household with young children, showing them that being Black- and everything that comes with it- is perfectly beautiful.

Bedtime Bonnet doesn’t hit shelves until April 2020, but it is available for pre-order online.