Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices

TV review by
Ashley Moulton, Common Sense Media
Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices TV Poster Image
Virtual book club for preschoolers spotlights Black authors.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

The books read in the series teach messages of racial equality and anti-racism. They also teach social-emotional skills like self-love and how to treat other people fairly.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Fantastic representation of Black role models in the series. The host is a 15-year-old Black teen girl, book readers are Black authors and actors, and illustrations in the books feature Black characters. Characters in the stories showcase the diversity of Black experiences.

Violence & Scariness

Varies from episode to episode, but some books depict racism against Black people. Examples of meanness, and characters who dislike each other. But interactions are age-appropriate, and narratives emphasize why those characters are wrong.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices spotlights prominent Black authors. In each episode, a Black celebrity reads a picture book written by a Black author. The selected books have great, age-appropriate messages around self-acceptance, anti-racism, and treating people fairly. Some episodes feature books that depict racism against Black people. Within the books, there are sometimes examples of meanness and characters who dislike one another, but interactions are age-appropriate, and the stories emphasize why they're wrong.

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What's the story?

Over 12 five-minute episodes in BOOKMARKS: CELEBRATING BLACK VOICES, Black celebrities and authors read children's picture books of their choice. Hosted by teen Marley Dias -- who at age 11 founded the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign -- the show's guests include Lupita Nyong'o reading her book Sulwe, Tiffany Haddish reading I Love My Hair by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley, Karamo Brown reading his 2019 bestseller I Am Perfectly Designedand many more.

Is it any good?

This show is a solid choice for preschool-age kids, but children of all ages will likely enjoy hearing these terrific hand-selected stories. The featured books in Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices are entertaining stories that all have a positive message for young children. Several of the books are great affirmations for Black kids, talking about how they are perfect just the way they are. Other books show Black characters overcoming prejudice or bias, or teach kids how they can be anti-racist. This fantastic series has a lot to offer both Black and non-Black kids alike. It also can be a great jumping-off point for parents to talk about race with their kids, and Netflix's companion website has more resources for parents.

The celebrity readers do a great job of reading the stories in an entertaining way, and they interject to ask questions to their virtual audience. The illustrations of the books are shown as the readers go through the stories, which make this virtual storytime feel just like the real thing. It has a Reading Rainbow-esque vibe, with the cherry on top being that each book has a great message for young kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the main characters in each story told in Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices. Did any of them remind you of yourself? In what ways are you alike and different?

  • In some of these stories, characters are treated differently because of the color of their skin, which isn't fair. Families can ask: What can our family do to make sure we treat everyone fairly?

  • Some of these stories talk about race and racism. Do you understand what those words mean? Do you have any questions about anything you heard about in the story today?

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