Negotiating the public school system in the U.S. can be a challenge for every Muslim child. There is likely to be differences in diets, dress, holidays celebrated, and general ignorance of the fundamentals of our faith ranging from naïve misunderstanding to blatant Islamophobia. Author Wendy Díaz draws our attention to a special dilemma, asking this question stated on the back cover of one of her latest books:
“Wearing a hijab, or Muslim headscarf, to school can be a challenge when it makes you stand out from the crowd. But, is being different a bad thing?”
In The Secret of My Hijab, the author draws our attention to the innerworkings of the mind of an elementary school girl. She is left nameless, but it would be easy for every Muslim girl who wears hijab to relate to the need to reach deep inside to bolster the conviction of purpose to march forward proudly into a school covering her hair.
The colorful illustrations by Uthman Guadalupe (Díaz’s teen son) and the whimsical rhymes make for a fun read. There is no preachy lecture about why the headscarf should be worn or where. The book’s central character simply lists a number of advantages of being a card-carrying member of a “Secret Hijabi Society” that has club members all over the world. She declares that her hijab has amazing powers that quite practically are “made for all situations … protecting me from harm.” That includes defending her from the sun, rain, and winter storm … keeping her warm … holding school supplies or a lollipop to free up a hand … adding style with colorful prints, a flower accessory, or sunshades, … and much more. She positively spins her scarf to have “special powers built into every single thread.” The characterization is sure to prompt every young Muslim reader to look differently at her own scarf or at the hijabs worn by other girls and women around her. And my guess is that was the author’s intention. That the book will inspire the reader to don it herself with a newfound sense of confidence.
Wendy Díaz is a Puerto Rican Muslim writer, award-winning poet, translator, and mother of six (ages ranging from infant to teen). She is the co-founder of Hablamos Islam, a non-profit organization that produces educational resources about Islam in Spanish (hablamosislam.org). She has written, illustrated, and published over a dozen children’s books including:
- The First Day of Ramadan (English and Spanish)
- Ahmed Goes to Friday Prayer
- Eid Empanadas: A Latino Muslim Ramadan and Eid-ul-fitr
- Why do Muslims … 25 Questions for Curious Kids
- The Adventures of Suleiman
- A Veil and a Beard! (English and Spanish)
- Yunus’ Mission (English and Spanish)
Support your children by reading books like The Secret of My Hijab that boost self-esteem and confidence in their Islamic identity. And support works like these by adding the book to your home, school, and local public library.