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    We Can Learn A Lot From Our Children’s Books

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | February 21st, 2021

    We Can Learn A Lot From Our Children’s Books

    “Real beauty comes from your mind and your heart. It begins with how you see yourself, not how others see you.”

    The above quote comes from the children’s book titled Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o. When I read this book and came across this statement, I immediately said to myself, why was this book not around when I was in elementary school and I was teased about my ‘big lips’.  It is funny to think that some of the children that teased me at that time are probably paying for lip fillers now.

    Although my children are adults, I have enjoyed reading some of the children’s and young adult books that have come out recently. Along with Sulwe, I would also recommend two other books. I would recommend Stamped, Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi and AntiRacist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi.

    Stamped, Racism, Antiracism and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi is the remix of the National Book Award winning Stamped From the Beginning, the adult version. How I wish this book was available to me when I was in middle school. Although the book claims not to be a history book, we learn about the history of racism and why it is still present today. The book takes us from the year 1417 to the present.  We cannot begin to have true equity especially health equity until we understand the history of why there is such disparities among racial groups.   In the book it defines a racist idea as any idea that suggests something is wrong or right, superior or inferior, better or worse about a racial group and an antiracist idea as any idea that suggest racial groups are equal. After reading the book, you are challenged to make the world antiracist. Knowing that young people and now some adults will be reading this book gives me hope that real change can happen.

    Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi is a children’s board book. Babies are born with a clean slate. The way we behave with each other is a learned behavior. This book outlines nine steps to make equity a reality. I love this book because these nine steps are relevant for adults. If we want to overcome racism we will have to be an active participant.

    Racism is a public health crisis. It is a risk factor for health disease.  Although the three books above are children’s book, I believe as adults we can learn so much. Kudos to Lupita Nyong’o, Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi for making these books accessible to all.

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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.

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