Three or so years ago, we were lucky to have a family move in across the street from our house with 3 children: 2 girls and a boy. These were kids that played, laughed, biked, were outside and active and exactly who my kids hoped for in a new family. Hours were spent playing with these kids. We know them, care for their family, and miss them dearly.
Like neighbors do, we exchanged holiday greetings and went to their birthday parties. The typical librarian, I often gave the children books as gifts; however, the stories never featured characters that were mirrors of themselves and their life experiences. My neighbors didn’t get to read stories about kids like them – Pakistani American children growing up in the U.S.
Amina’s Voice, published by Simon and Schuster’s new Salaam Reads imprint, changes that.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
Meet Amina. Much like many middle-schoolers, she wants to keep a low-profile. It’s a bit harder with a unique name like hers, something her best friend Soojin understands. But Soojin starts taking about making her name more “American” and mean-girl Emily, who has made fun their cultures (Pakistani and Korean) for years, starts joining them for lunch and projects, throwing Amina’s world into chaos. At home, it’s no better: there’s no chance of escaping unnoticed when she and her older brother are signed up to give a Quran recitation at her mosque with the expectation of excellence from her parents and visiting uncle from Pakistan. When the mosque is the target of a hate crime, Amina’s home and school communities come together in unexpected – yet fully believable – ways. Khan knows her background and gives all readers an accessible story that will educate as well as entertain. An important book for all libraries. Highly recommended. Share with ages 8-12.