Written by: Mark Gonzales
Illustrated by: Mehrdokht Amini
For ages: 3 years and up
Language: English & Spanish, mention of speaking Arabic (but none in book).
Topics Covered: Family, Religion,Muslim Identity, Culture & Traditions, Love, Community, Islamophobia, Social-Emotional Learning, Multicultural Families.
Summary: This is an incredibly beautiful story written from the perspective of a father’s letter to his daughter about being part of a multicultural family. Much of the book is about how to joyfully approach the world and the questions that both you have for the world and that others in the world have for you. This book doesn’t get into great detail about Islamic faith or particularities of the religion, mostly speaking of appreciation of the world around us. The central message is appreciation for one’s culture and the natural world around us, as well as learn how to respond with love when faced with Islamophobia. This unique perspective of a Spanish-speaking Muslim family is not one written about often, but much needed!
These illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful. Amini has preciously illustrated a joyful girl interacting with the world, navigating and asking questions. Short lines text do not interrupt the flow of the pictures, and instead enhance them. Rich colors and patterns fill the pages, catching the eyes of readers at any age. This book briefly touches on how some days people will not be kind and smile at you, prompting discussion with younger readers on how to develop social-emotional skills around engaging with others.
- Has a loved one of yours ever written you a letter like the father in the book does for his daughter?
- How do you think the daughter feels when she reads and listens to his words?
- How can you help friends or family members “learn what it means to be human”?
Continuing the Conversation:
- This book focuses on teaching how to respond to people when faced with Islamophobia specifically, but can be broadly applied to a variety of situations. How can we as people learn to approach others with love in the face of unfamiliarity rather than immediate suspicion or fear?
- Mehrdokht Amine uses high jewel tones in many of her illustrations, with intricate patterns in the backgrounds. Try using different artistic techniques to create your own unique spin on illustrations like Mini does!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Mark Gonzales is a father, futurist, and one of the most innovative storytellers of our time. His creative portfolio spans twenty countries and includes: 3 TED stages, HBO Def Poetry, Stanford University, and the United Nations. Yo Soy Muslim is his first venture into children’s literature, a journey inspired by his daughter and the stories she’ll grow up reading. Currently, Mark journeys between California and northern Africa with his family, seeding ways to excite the human imagination. Here is another great article that interviews Mark!
Mehrdokht Amini has illustrated several books for children including Chicken in the Kitchen by Nnedi Okorafor, which won the 2016 Children’s Africana Best Book Award, and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan. She has illustrated books published in Iran, Poland, Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Mehrdokht grew up in Iran and now lives in Surrey, England. Visit her website at MyArt2C.com!