In my last blog post, I shared statistics on the increase of the single parent household and the blatant disparaging of Black men as fathers. Author, Jerry McCrae views the absentee Black father as a prevalent stereotype. To address and debunk this stereotype, he wrote a children's book entitled, “Black Fathers are real: We do exist”
I had the opportunity to read his book. My ten year old daughter loved the bright and colorful illustrations.
Overall, I think this book needed to be written and addressed by an African American Father. Jerry obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English from UNC-Wilmington and Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from North Carolina Central University. Among the many hats he wears, he serves as a devoted husband, engaging father, hardworking librarian and now published author. Who better to share the narrative? There are over 30 books on Amazon that deal with being a Black man. But none I have seen were written for children. I honestly cried as I went through the pages. Being a Black woman in America is hard because of the stigma of being both female and Black. But being a Black male has its own baggage. They are emasculated. They are stereotyped as gangsters, criminals, drug dealers, and absentee fathers. There is no certainty that once they leave their homes they will return. Without bias, I have shared the pros and cons to this children’s book.
It was a great idea. Black fathers are real and they do exist. My father was very much present in my life and my husband and his brothers are present in their children’s lives. However, there was too much text. It was too long, often repetitive, and too complex. I recognize not every children’s story is fun, playful, and has rhyming words. Yes stories can be educational and have moral lessons. However, for the targeted age group, my opinion is that the book should not have exceeded 32 pages, unless it was intended to be a chapter book. It simply addressed too many topics in one story. The emphasis should be on fathers, yet it discussed extended family members, death, and too many details on finance. It could have been a shorter, more focused story, if those extra parts were left out and saved for another book.
Every parent has “the talk” with their children. The talk refers to sexuality, gender, and race. When you are a minority race, it is necessary to talk to your children about the preconceived notions that society may have about you. Difficult topics are best discussed with age appropriate literature. This children’s book is a clever and intriguing way to discuss the impact of parenting and neglect.
It addressed many important topics: family, race, religion, work, finance, career, and death. In addition, children are introduced to every day heroes such as President Obama, nurses, doctors, etc.
We all loved the bright, beautiful, illustrations that draw the reader into the author’s life. However, I was surprised by the size of the book. I was expecting a smaller paperback. I am accustomed to thinner books in this size or hardcover. However, this in no way took away from the strengths of the book.
I loved that the story was told from the perspective of the son. This created a platform for children to relate to the topic. However, since the story is supposed is supposed to be from the perspective story is supposed to be from the perspective of a young child, but the voice doesnt appear to be from a young child, but that of an adult.
Children will be exposed to new vocabulary: statistics, stereotype, bias, stocks, trust fund, and finance. The vocabulary is quite advanced for children under the age of ten, which isnt necessarily a bad thing, since we want children to mature in their vocabulary.
In summary, I realize that the stereotype “Absent Black father” is present. I did a search of books on the topic and while there are many written for adults, very few are written for children. Jerry did a great job finding a lack in the market. I really think this is a great book for Black male children and recommend it to for African American families. However, I recommend for an older group of children: 10 to 13 years old, not 7 to 10 as is recommended. While some people may see the title as defensive or controversial, it was actually a nonthreatening picture book that has many noble goals. I am impressed by the author’s ability and desire to communicate his core values, especially faith and education. We need more of these lessons to help the Black community overcome hardship, debunk stereotypes, and aim higher for the sake of our children. I do hope you will purchase his book and check out my interview with the author himself.