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Bookmarks Review 2020 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew Online
Stars: Karamo Brown, Grace Byers, Common
The idea behind Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices, executive produced by Jesse Collins, is to bring to life children’s books written by Black authors, illustrated by Black artists and featuring Black characters (many of whom are female). The setting is straightforward, with either a celebrity or the book’s author reading the book in front of a green screen that shows the book’s illustrations, or them performing the reading from their homes.
The books featured: ABC’s For Girls Like Me, Anti-Racist Baby, Brown Boy Joy, Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, Firebird, I Am Enough, I Am Perfectly Designed, I Love My Hair, Let’s Talk About Race, Pretty Brown Face, Sulwe, The Day You Begin, and We March.
In the case of I Love My Hair, Haddish reads the book with her own Haddish-esque commentary about how painful it was when her mother did her hair and how much she liked wearing beads. She models an afro wig, then doffs her straight wig at the end of her reading to show off her recently-shorn head.
Marsai Martin jumps around the set while reading ABCs For Girls Like Me, and Lupita Nyong’o passionately reads her own book Sulwe. Actress Grace Byers explains why she wrote her own book I Am Enough, and Jacqueline Woodson tells kids why her book The Day You Begin has rulers all over it.
Other readers are Common, Caleb McLaughlin, Karamo Brown, Jill Scott, Misty Copeland, Kendrick Sampson and Dias.
Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices fills a public need, which is exposing parents and kids to books they may or may not be aware of, about kids and people whom many Black kids haven’t seen in kids’ books, at least not the ones they find at the library or read at school.
It’s part of an effort on Netflix’s part to give parents help to find books by Black authors and about Black kids; the website associated with the show gives parents book recommendations for kids of all ages that go beyond the 11 that are read during the first season.
As with most reading series, the readers bring the books to life, either through funny asides like Haddish does or just by voicing what was going on in their heads when they wrote the books themselves. The episodes I watched were mostly reading of books I have at home and read to my 5 year-old; it was illustrative, for instance, to see how Nyong’o interprets her own writing in Sulwe using her Oscar-winning acting skills, or seeing how Byers intended the prose in I Am Enough to read when she wrote it.
But I also appreciated readings done by celebs instead of authors. Anything that brings awareness to these books is amazing, and the series’ sparse productions let the books and the illustrations in them shine.