A Bryan-College Station native has written and published an illustrated book for elementary-aged children focused on hair positivity and celebrating African American hairstyles.
The book, “My Hair is so Cool,” was published in March.
Alicia Tillotson said she was motivated to write the book because of her own experience with natural hair and the struggles that she’s witnessed “from young girls who may have hair that the texture is considered different or you feel pressured to wear your hair always maybe straight or you’re just not comfortable with it in its natural state.”
“It’s deeper than that, because on the surface, it’s about hair, but it’s also about instilling confidence and making people with different textures and different kinds of hair to feel like they matter and they are able to accomplish things outside of themselves,” she said.
Tillotson is a sixth grade reading teacher in the Pasadena school district in Harris County. The book’s target audience is African American girls, Tillotson said.
“My hope is that I can reach, not just the students in my classroom, but this is my way to extend that reach to other young African American girls who aren’t in my class who I can hopefully influence to be confident in themselves and understand that confidence is half of the battle, and once you’re confident enough to believe that you can do something, chances are that you’re on the right track to actually do it,” Tillotson said.
Born in Bryan, Tillotson graduated from A&M Consolidated High School in 2006. She took classes at Blinn College and graduated from the University of Houston. Tillotson said she still has family members that live in Bryan-College Station, including her father, stepmother, two sisters and several nieces and nephews.
The idea for the book originated in July 2020 when Tillotson had free time amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I just didn’t really know the process. I had all of these different ideas in my head, but I didn’t know how to make it happen,” Tillotson said. “Then, my husband ran across a TikTok video, of all things, of this author, and he explained his process and it seemed pretty simple and doable. That is kind of what started my journey to create the book.”
Tillotson said she began writing the book in August and completed it in a month. Several rounds of revisions were done throughout the fall and completed in January. Mohd Daud illustrated the book. Tillotson self-published the book through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and it was released on March 5, which is her birthday.
“It was a gift to myself,” Tillotson said. “I purposefully scheduled it for that day.”
Feedback on the book has been positive, Tillotson said, noting she’s received support from co-workers and her principal. Tillotson added she’s received messages via social media from people in Bryan-College Station.
“It’s been quite a journey,” she said. “I’ve been appreciative of it all.”
Authoring more books is something Tillotson is interested in doing, but she said she is first looking to complete her master’s degree in education administration from Lamar University with aspirations to become a principal.
Until then, Tillotson said she can reach those, especially young African American girls, who struggle with confidence, are unsure of themselves or not sure what their next step will be.
“My goal was to meet them at the starting point of it all when they are children,” Tillotson said. “To start their confidence and build it up at a very young age, so that hopefully they become women who feel like they have qualities and values that they can contribute to the world and to their community.”