Once again, Barbara Freeman, a retired elementary counselor for the Omaha Public Schools, has used her love for children to produce a children’s book. This one is particularly helpful to little African-American girls.
Freeman’s book, “Mirror, Mirror,” while clever, also provides a teaching moment.
The main character in the book is Tina Thomas, a little black girl. She encounters a mirror that shakes, rattles, and shimmers with a loud voice. The mirror asks her questions about herself and Tina’s low self-esteem surfaces as she answers the questions.
“Black girls will face prejudice, discrimination and racism as they grow up,” said Peter Sealy, an African-American from Toronto who is a sociologist, educator and guest columnist for different publications. “They will also have to deal with stereotypes and people who think that they possess special powers to predict their potential.”
Freeman, an African-American woman, understands thoroughly the plight of black women. In her book, the young girl confesses to the mirror her distaste for her skin color and African-American appearance.
When a neighbor lady complimented her on her behavior, Tina was pleased. The neighbor eventually taught Tina some of her black history and she learned about many ladies of color who were outstanding leaders, creative and adventurous with beautiful brown skin like hers.
By the end of the book she has embraced her value.
The response to the book, available at Amazon, has been extremely positive, Freeman said. She said parents have commented that the book is “a must-read for all girls of color who need to feel beautiful inside and outside.”
“People have purchased the book for different reasons, including helping their black children (regardless of gender) understand the history of their people as well as embracing their brown skin,” Freeman said. “I have had Hispanic ladies tell me how they can also identify with the character Tina.”
Freeman chose the name of her niece for the main character.
“This is my story,” her niece said. “I can identify with the character. My dark brown skin color kept me from feeling pretty as a child; I feel there is a great need for this book.”
“It is important that we in the black family raise our expectations of our girls to buffer their negative experiences,” Sealy said. “We can do this by being there for them, showing patience, and giving praise and encouragement.”
As a high school counselor, Freeman was instrumental in helping many girls of different races with self-esteem difficulties and in surrounding them with love and acceptance. She is known as a sweet, loving and generous lady who is eager to extend a helping hand to others.
Just recently, 20 of the second-grade students she taught before becoming a counselor organized a gathering for her and her husband, retired educator James Freeman, at a pizza parlor. These students are now 46 and 47 years old and still hold her in high esteem.