Rockville resident and author, Hena Khan, has received much acclaim for her recent book, Amina’s Voice. The story carries readers into the world of a Pakistani-American girl dealing with the ordinary middle school challenges of balancing her friends, family, and faith, and then her community faces a tragic mosque vandalism.
Although Khan wrote the book four years ago, the recent attacks on mosques has unfortunately made the topic timely. During an interview she admitted, “Never in a million years did I think this would be the case.”
When asked what gave her the idea to include the vandalism at a mosque, she responded that four years ago Islamophobia was growing. She had heard about some incidents, including the shooting at the temple in Wisconsin.
“Through the eyes of the characters, I wanted to demystify mosques for people and open up to let them see how a mosque really functions as a place for learning and worship. ” said Khan.
Although having written children’s books with Muslim themes in the past, such as the popular It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns. this is her first book for middle school readers.
“I had one child in middle school when I wrote it but the issues of going to middle school were the same as when I went in the 80’s, discovering who your friends really are, reacting to the challenges.”
She had young readers, other than her sons, read the book after she wrote what she thought was the current language used by middle schoolers. Since Khan regularly visits sixth graders and students in grades K-8 across the country to share her children’s books, she sees them in their school environment often and used her observations to write the story.
The book is the first release of Salaam Reads, the new imprint of Simon & Schuster focusing on Muslims and has received coverage in Entertainment Weekly, Teen Vogue, Time for Kids, and The Washington Post.
Here’s the official description of the book which “brings to life the richness of Pakistani culture and highlights the many ways in which a diverse community can come together to show love and support for each other.”
The first year of middle school is tricky. Suddenly, Amina’s best friend, Soojin, starts talking about changing her name and, even worse, spending time with Emily—a girl that used to make fun of them! Amina’s older brother seems to be getting into a lot of trouble for his grades, and now he wants to play basketball instead of studying. To make matters worse, her uncle comes to visit from Pakistan, and her parents seem to be trying awfully hard to impress him. With so many changes, it’s hard to know how to be a good friend, sister, and daughter. But when Amina’s mosque is vandalized, she learns that the things that connect us will always be stronger than the things that try to tear us apart.
Don’t be fooled by the cover, Amina’s Voice is recommended for boys and girls aged 8 – 12. In fact, one mom of an 11-year-old boy sent Khan a note sharing that her son “has been reading your book every night and is up to Chapter 10. He LOVES the story. Today he told me how much he was looking forward to going to bed so he could read your book.”
If you would like to meet the author, she’ll be at the Gaithersburg Literary Festival on Saturday, May 20, 2017 from 10 AM to 6 PM.