If you’ve been a child recently or have children in your lives, you may be wondering why there is so little diversity in the early reader series for North American kids. When my daughter began reading independently, I realized this sad state of affairs for the first time. There were no South Asian or Muslim main characters in early readers for children in kindergarten, first or second grade. As a writer, I decided to do the only thing I could: write a book with a main character I wanted my daughter to read about.
Introducing Yasmin Ahmad, a second grader with a big heart and a big imagination! Yasmin lives with her Mama, Baba, Nana (maternal grandfather) and Nani (maternal grandmother) in the United States. She is first generation Pakistani American and is growing up with the same challenges and joys that all first generation kids face. Let me introduce you to someone who feels very real and special to me:
Name: Yasmin Ahmad
Age: 7 years
Favorite games: puzzles and scavenger hunts
Favorite food: cheese pizza with a hint of pepper flakes
Favorite drink: mango lassi
Favorite hobby: crafts with Nani, or reading with Baba
Meet Yasmin! is a collection of 4 short stories appropriate for grades K-2 and perhaps even older if they are second language learners. The stories are also available individually: Yasmin the Explorer, Yasmin the Painter, Yasmin the Builder and Yasmin the Fashionista. This is a series, so expect more Yasmin stories in the coming months. Publisher: Capstone. Publication date: August 1, 2018.
You may buy Meet Yasmin! on Amazon (link: https://www.amazon.com/Meet-Yasmin-Saadia-Faruqi/dp/1684360226) or your local independent bookstore. Visit my website (link: www.saadiafaruqi.com) and follow me on Twitter (link: www.twitter.com/saadiafaruqi) or Instagram (link: www.instagram.com/saadiafaruqi). If you’re a staff member at a library or school, you may be interested in downloadables and activities related to Yasmin available on the Capstone website (link: http://www.capstonekids.com/characters/Yasmin/index.html).
About the author:
Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American writer, essayist and interfaith activist. She writes for a number of publications including the Huffington Post, and is editor-in-chief of Blue Minaret, a magazine for Muslim art, poetry and prose. Her adult short story collection Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan was published in 2015. She resides in Houston, TX with her husband and children.
About the Illustrator:
Hatem Aly is an Egyptian-born illustrator whose work has been featured in multiple publications worldwide. He currently lives in beautiful New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife, son, and more pets than people. When he is not dipping cookies in a cup of tea or staring at blank pieces of paper, he is usually drawing books. One of the books he illustrated is The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz, which won a Newbery Honor and other awards despite Hatem’s drawings of a farting dragon, a two-headed cat, and stinky cheese.