Princess Arabella Books Teach Little Black Girls They Can Be Princesses Too

With her orange dress, dark skin, and kinky hair, Arabella broadens the definition of what it means to be a princess.

Mylo Freeman

Mylo Freeman, a black Dutch author and illustrator, was inspired to write her Princess Arabella books after she heard the shocking story of a little black girl who didn’t believe that a black girl could be a princess in school play, let alone real life. Freeman knew then that there needed to be a children’s books with black princesses, so that other little black girls would feel like being a princess was a realistic dream.

Princess Arabella

With her dark skin and kinky hair, Princess Arabella is an example for young girls across the globe. (source)

Freeman has now written ten books about the adventures of Princess Arabella, with more to come. When it came to getting her books sold on the American market, she ran into a snafu she wasn’t expecting. The white American publishers were concerned about Arabella’s hairstyle, claiming, “her hair looks uncombed, our audiences will be offended.” Though Freeman is familiar with the historical plight faced by black women about their hair, she still couldn’t believe that her hair choices – modelled after traditional African hairstyles – could be that offensive in the American market.

Princess Arabella

Just like any other princess, Arabella goes on exciting adventures in each new book. (source)

Though the Princess Arabella books were well-received by Nigerian publishers and other African countries, the series is one of the few published in Holland with a black leading character. Freeman marketed her book in Holland by reaching out via social media and setting up tables. Further, other young children of color feel proud to see a darker-skinned child playing the lead role in a story.

Princess Arabella

Princess Arabella is supported in her adventures by her mother and father. (source)

Freeman’s work as an author is extremely important. Book series like hers – where the lead character is not white, blonde-haired, and blue-eyed – help young children of color to see themselves in roles of power, and help all young children to be receptive and empathetic towards their peers who come from different ethnic backgrounds.

“Many children of colour see the world only through windows but they also need mirrors. Other children only see mirrors and they need to see the world through windows,” Freeman said in an interview with the Guardian.

Photo source.



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