Books including characters from underrepresented cultures still does not capture the number of diverse readers in our society. The Cooperative Children’s Book Center indicates that 10 percent of the books that have been published in the last 20 years feature minority or diverse characters. Lee & Low conducted a survey to publishing staff and reviewers. They concluded that 80% of the book publishing industry employs white staff. Books are important to all communities, however the individuals deciding what we all read does not reflect the readers. Also the books that are being published does not reflect the readers reading them.
In an effort to increase the number of diverse books, Simon & Schuster has released the first major imprint of books featuring stories with characters from the Muslim faith. Muslims make up 0.9% of the United States population. There are approximately 1.8 million people who are a part of the population. In the statement from Simon & Schuster, “Salaam Reads will introduce readers of all faiths and backgrounds to a wide variety of Muslim children and families, and offer Muslim kids, and young adults to see themselves reflected positively in published works. The imprint, which takes its name from the Arabic word for “peace,” plans to publish books for young readers of all ages, including picture and chapter books, and middle–grade and young adult titles.”
Below are a list of 13 Books that feature Muslim teens and children as the main character.
1. She Wore Red Trainer Shoes by Na’ima Robert
A love story of teens from different Muslim backgrounds and with different perspectives. This story was written to identify the limitations where they cannot see one another, have any physical contact, nor speak to one another. They had subtle looks and nuances to show each other their interests. Na’ima Robert shows a perspective of teens who are committed the their community and faith.
2. Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Amal is a passionate, thought-provoking, and hilarious teen girl who is proud of herself. She desires to wear a “hijab” or a head scarf because she wants to show her convictions and her beliefs. When this is a personal decision for her, adults question her intent. Amal can think of all of the comebacks, but will she be able to handle all of them?
3. Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah
A Lebanese Muslim who is proud of her faith lives two lives. She is Jaime at school and Jamilah at home. Jamilah does not want to appear too “ethnic” at school because the popular kids make fun of her. She learns throughout this book to accept herself.
4. Bestest Ramadan Ever by Medeia Shariff
A story on how a teen handles the ups and downs of Raamadan.
5. One Green Apple by Eve Bunting
A story about a Muslim girl who is scared because she does not understand the language from her classmates. Feeling isolate, a classmate invited her to join her in the apple field. This book teaches you of showing empathy to people from another cultural background.
6. Just a Drop of Water by Kelley O’Malley Cerra
After the trauma of September 11, things get shaky for Jake Green. He finds some haunting secrets, and his friend’s father is now detained by the FBI. Jake must now decide between his friend or his family.
7. The Garden of my Imaan by Farhana Zia
Aliya is a new student and tries to understand her culture and her faith.
8. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
A graphic novel about Satrapi’s experience during the Islamic Revolution. An edgy story that portrays the life of a woman living in a war-torn country.
9. My name is Bilal by Asma Mobin-Uddin M.D.
Bilal is the only Muslim boy at his school. Once he sees his sister being teased for wearing her headscarf, he decides to call himself Bill. Learn how a boy must deal with another culture and his journey on learning about himself.
10. Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson
Lalla wishes to wear the cloth covering her head just like her beautiful mother. She lives in Mauritania. A story for young readers that expresses the beauty of wearing a veil.
Introduces the story of Hussein, a Muslim boy whose joys, comforts, concerns, and fears are universal though firmly set in a particular place and time.
This classic fairytale emphasizes large themes of religion.Dances and magic are taken away in order to make this story truer to the Islamic faith.
This list of books does not even scratch the surface of the amount of books that can help children become better readers. If you know of books that feature Muslim boys or girls please comment.