R. Tell us about how you were inspired to write “Is My Mom Like Other Moms?”
H. I got this idea about a year ago, when we were living in Virginia. On most of our trips to the park or to story time at the library, we were the only minority family, and I was the only mom who looked “different.” At times, I could sense people staring. As an adult, I didn’t particularly enjoy that so I could only imagine how it felt for my young children, who didn’t fully understand the reason for my Islamic dress. So, when my kids started asking me about my hijab, I knew I wanted to help them see the beauty and normalcy in it, while looking past it to focus on what really matters.
R. Tell us about your publishing history and journey.
H. Well, I’m a teacher by profession and I had never fancied myself a writer, at least not before having my own kids! After having children, I realized there was a dearth of books geared toward little Muslims and minorities, in which they, themselves, were the protagonists. So, I decided to join a growing cadre of Muslim writers to help fill that gap. When I looked into mainstream publishing, I knew I wasn’t interested. I would rather dive into a project, from start to finish, and then move on to the next one. So sending off my manuscript and then waiting years for it to hit the bookshelves, plus having to give up creative control, would have been difficult. So the “self-publishing with help” approach through Green Key Press has been terrific for me. GKP reviews my work, provides feedback, takes care of book design and publishing, and also connects me with knowledgeable scholars who ensure my books are correct from an Islamic perspective. And I believe that adhering to their guidance put more blessings in my work.
R. What books/authors do you like to read and recommend?
H. I’ve been reading a lot of parenting and child psychology books, recently. I love the wisdom shared in books such as How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk, No Drama Discipline and Positive Parenting. I also infuse positive child psychology into my stories, so that – I hope – children can learn and grow from them.
Since the Covid-19 lockdown began, I have rediscovered my love of reading for enjoyment. Some of my favorites have been, The Light We Lost, The Keeper of Lost Things, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and A Man Called Ove. As for children’s books, this is such a wonderful time. There are so many talented female Muslim authors who are highlighting the beauty of our religion, providing teachings in a loving manner and bringing our children positive role models that they can relate to. Some of my favorites are: Zanib Mian, Shoohada Khanom and Heba Subeh Hyder.
R. What is it about “Is My Mom Like Other Moms” that kids can relate to?
H. Hopefully, children can relate to the young girl at the center of this story and her journey. It was important to me that this book be written in a neutral tone. I wanted to create a safe place for children to explore their own feelings about the Islamic dress, just as the girl does throughout the book.
R. Where can we get this book?
H. “Is My Mom Like Other Moms” is available exclusively on Amazon, in approximately 15 countries. If you go to smile.amazon.com , you can pick a charity to support!
R. Tell us about yourself.
H. I’m a mother of three children and before marriage, I taught second grade in England. My faith is very important to me. So, I wanted to write books that would help children learn about Islam in a loving manner, because these childhood years are key, and the lessons they learn now will remain with them forever. I am also an avid traveller. I’ve lived in five countries on three continents and currently live with my family in Jordan. I consider travel to be one of our greatest blessings!
R. How can we follow your journey?
H. I’m on Instagram @booksforlittlemuslims, which is easy to manage around the kids. I’d love to do more in the future, but the kids keep me busy! The next project in my writing journey is a book focused on the importance of prayer entitled, “Be Sure to Pray, Zain!”Look for it to be released later this month!