The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Books + Celebrities + Celebrating Diversity = Bookmarks, New on Netflix

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PHOTO COURTESY/YOUTUBE NETFLIX

“Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices” is a new show streaming on Netflix where children’s book read-alouds are narrated by celebrities. Each episode is less than 12 minutes long, with the narrator reading the book and asking viewers a question or two, opening up an opportunity for discussion. While this show is geared toward children, (similar to “Reading Rainbow”) and is focused on the Black experience, the subject matter in the books is timely, diverse and can appeal to viewers of all backgrounds and ages. Issues of social justice, self-esteem, achieving your dreams and learning to fall in love with your natural hair are just a few of the topics the spotlighted books are about. 

Hosted by 15-year-old author and activist Marley Dias, who founded the #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign in 2016, each episode displays the illustrations from the book on a large screen above the narrator, who often adds unscripted commentary as they read the book. Celebrity readers include Common, Tiffany Haddish and Caleb McLaughlin, to name a few. In several episodes, the authors themselves read the books, including American ballet dancer Misty Copeland, Academy Award winner Lupita N’yongo and reality TV personality Karamo Brown.

In the first episode,  Haddish reads “I Love My Hair” by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley and illustrated by E.B. Lewis, a book that celebrates different hairstyles and textures. At the end of the read-aloud, Haddish surprises viewers by showing off her natural hair!

Each episode’s book is selected in an effort to spark kid-friendly conversations about empathy, anti-racism, love and self-esteem. These books set the stage for a meaningful discussion at a young age. With 12 episodes, this show can be binge-watched in one sitting (total running time around 1 hour and 20 minutes) or divided as viewers see fit. 

Families with young children, bookworms, current and future teachers, and anyone with a few minutes to spare will likely enjoy this new show.

 

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