Thursday, October 22, 2020

Milestones: The Proudest Blue by S. K. Ali and Ibtihaj Muhammed

It's the first day hijab. Asiyah knows it. I know it.

We're sisters.

It's a beautiful, bright sunny day. Little sister Faizah is excited about her first day of school. She has a new backpack and new shoes that flash with every step. She is also excited that this is her big sister's first day to wear her beautiful blue hijab to school. To Faizah, her big sister seems like a princess. But as her sister waves goodbye and joins the sixth-graders, a girl in front of her turns around.
"What's that on your sister's head?" she whispers.

 "A scarf," I whisper. "A hijab," I add. I don't know why that came out a whisper. 

"Oh," she whispers.

Suddenly Faizah needs to hug her sister. She runs across the schoolyard to the door of the sixth-grade area.
"Are you excited?" I ask. "About the first day of hijab?"
Her sister responds with a big smile. Then some one laughs and points at Asiyah.
A boy shouts that he's going to pull that tablecloth off her head.
Now the day doesn't seem so bright. But when her sister picks her up from her classroom at the end of the day, Asiyah is still smiling. Asiyah is strong. Faizah tells her mother about what happened, and she smiles, too.
"Hurtful words belong only to those who use them."
Ibithaj Muhammed and A. K. Ali's best-selling The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family (Little, Brown and Company, 2019) is a simple story of family unity and faithful religious practice, which for the proposed readership appropriately avoids the problems of diverse religious belief in a multicultural world in which tenets of one faith may violate the tenets of another, and instead stresses the need for respect of others' faith and practices in that world. Says Publishers Weekly, "This excellent story about identity, visibility, and confidence, touches on rites of passage, bonds between sisters, and bullying and is unapologetic in tackling misconceptions and demanding equality."

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