Happy Friday, Hena Khan! I'm grateful you dropped by to celebrate Amina's Voice and finish my sentences. I am trying to tell as many people as I can about this beautiful and important middle-grade novel.
Hena Khan: Hello! Thank you for having me here. It’s so fun to speak to you and to celebrate the book!
Thank you! Shall we get started? :)
Amina’s Voice tells the story of a sixth grade girl named Amina who is dealing with unexpected changes in her friendships and family, and struggling to find the confidence to perform in front of an audience. She also happens to be a Pakistani-American Muslim girl, so Amina’s story includes a glimpse into her community, faith, and culture along her journey.
Amina and Soojin’s favorite TV show is The Voice, and it’s Amina’s dream to be able to perform on a stage like the contestants on the show. Soojin believes in her best friend’s amazing singing ability and pushes her to sign up for a solo at the school choral concert, but Amina is petrified at the thought of it. She’s scarred by a second-grade play when she choked and forgot her line and doesn’t want to get in front of an audience ever again.
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Amina’s family is loving and warm, but flawed like all families, and there’s a bit of tension in the house with a rebelling teen brother and conservative visiting uncle who her parents want to impress. Amina is hurt when her uncle questions her love for music and calls it un-Islamic, and her father doesn’t stick up for her. But this reflects a common reality—that families don’t always agree on basic things, like what respect means, or how to interpret and apply faith to daily life.
Amina’s Voice is set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, because I could imagine this family living there, and the events of the book taking place in that environment. My husband grew up in Milwaukee, and it’s a community he knows well. I’ve visited his family there several times, as well as a couple lovely and welcoming Islamic centers. For some reason, I didn’t picture Amina and her family living in my hometown of Maryland.
Salaam Reads is amazing! I know I sound biased, but it’s really such a wonderful step toward representing Muslim voices, and getting good stories out there that speak to the human experience and connect us all. I’m so proud to be a part of such a groundbreaking effort, and especially happy that Amina’s Voice launched the imprint. It’s heartwarming to see all the enthusiasm and support for it!
School libraries are a safe space for kids to learn about their worlds and gain exposure to all kinds of stories and knowledge to broaden their perspectives and open their minds. And school librarians are some of the most incredible people in the world. I’m always in awe of how they know every kid in a school, remember their preferences, and encourage a personal connection to books! If I were ever to change careers, I would want to work in a school library in some capacity. They are my happy place.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if I have any musical talent or can sing like Amina. And my answer would be a big NO! I sadly have no musical talent or knowledge whatsoever. I can’t read a note! But I do like to sing when I’m alone and no one can hear me, so I guess I have that in common with Amina, even if she isn’t horribly off-key like me!
Borrow Amina's Voice from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.