IF MY HAIR HAD A VOICE by Dana Marie Miroballi (Uzbekistan)


If My HAIR had a VOICE
(Children’s Book)
by Dana Marie Miroballi (Uzbekistan);
Patricia Grannum. illustrator
May 2024
40 pages
$15.58 (Kindle); $16.40 (Hardcover)



“If your hair had a voice, it would sing of diversity and identity. It would tell you stories of our history.”

Dana Marie Miroballi

In her debut children’s book, Chicago writer Dana Marie Miroballi tells the story of a young Black girl who learns to love her natural hair — and the rich culture and history that come with it.

The book follows a young girl as she embarks on a journey to learn more about her afro-textured hair and its various styles, from braids that are decorated with beads like the Fulani from Western Africa to Bantu knots like the Zulu from Southern Africa.

The girl soon discovers that while her hair doesn’t have a voice, she does — and she uses it to share her newfound knowledge and love for her hair with her friends and family.

Much like the book’s main character, Miroballi studied afro-textured hair, African hairstyles and their history while working on the book. She also researched a variety of famous and influential Black people, like Madam C.J. Walker, a pioneer of Black haircare products and the first American woman to be a self-made millionaire.

“I just kept thinking about her … and about the history of your hair and why it’s important [and] what it means to you,” Miroballi said.

“I think people will be surprised by where some of the different hairstyles come from, of the diversity of styles and how they can be tied back to specific groups.”

Miroballi’s book focuses on empowerment and self-love, but it’s also educational. She hopes it can open people’s eyes to the diversity within Africa and its 54 countries and thousands of ethnic groups.

“There’s such a rich culture outside of what we’re taught in Black history,” Miroballi said. “In America, it’s like Black history starts with slavery and then moves onto civil rights. And I think that there’s so much [cultural diversity] that we’re missing out on.”

Pages from Dana Marie Miroballi’s book, If My Hair Had a Voice, are illustrated by Trinidad and Tobago-based artist Patricia Grannum, whose work is inspired by folktales and the Caribbean.

As a Chicago Public Schools speech-language pathologist and former teacher, Miroballi said she’s always loved reading, writing and children.

Miroballi also wrote poetry and was part of journalism and yearbook programs in middle school and high school, she said.

“When you’re around kids, then you read a lot of books,” Miroballi said. “So even before I had my own kids, when I first started teaching, I just really loved kids’ books. But I never really thought that it was something that was going to actually happen [for me].”

Before settling in Chicago about 20 years ago, Miroballi lived around the world. She went to high school in Germany, attended Ohio State University for college and lived in Uzbekistan with the Peace Corps.



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