The Yasmin Series by Saadia Faruqi and Hatem Aly

Hello, Saadia Faruqi! Welcome back to Watch. Connect. Read.! I’ve loved seeing all the positive reactions to Yasmin during conferences, school visits, and online. What has been the most exciting experience/moment since you launched the Yasmin series? 

Saadia Faruqi: It’s been a totally surreal experience! I didn’t realize myself how needed this series was, for kids all over the country and even around the world. The most exciting moments are really the smallest ones: parents sending a message thanking me over and over for writing something their child loves; a teacher sending a heartfelt tweet about a student whose eyes lit up at seeing Mama’s hijab; a librarian laughing about how the books are never on the shelves because the kids fight over them. It’s exciting to see the series take off, and so humbling to see how many children and families are enjoying it.

Please tell us about the four Yasmin titles you and Hatem Aly will release on January 1, 2019.

Saadia:Yes, the titles coming in January are sure to please our little readers. There is Yasmin the Teacher, in which Yasmin is left in charge of her classroom for a few minutes while Ms. Alex steps out, and chaos ensues. 

There is Yasmin the Chef, in which Mama asks Yasmin to make a new dish for a dinner party at their house, since she doesn’t like any of the things Mama has cooked. 

There is Yasmin the Zookeeper, in which Yasmin’s class goes on a field trip to the zoo. 

And finally there is Yasmin the Superhero, where Yasmin learns that you don’t need a villain to be a real life heroine.

Please finish these sentence starters:

I hope Yasmin continues to amaze and delight readers of all backgrounds, and continues to be an essential mirror and window to our children. We are living in turbulent times, when division and intolerance is seen as viable political strategies. Yasmin and her stories can maybe heal those wounds and help our younger generation understand the value of diversity.

School libraries are havens for all students, but especially marginalized children. My tiny school library, in a Catholic convent school in Pakistan, was my little slice of heaven where I learned the love of reading and writing. I don’t know where I’d be without my own school library.

Since the launch of Yasmin, I’ve had the honor of visiting all sorts of school libraries – big and small, poor and rich – and the one thing that connects them all is the librarian who really wants all students to see themselves in the pages of the books they read. This is just what we need, today and every day!

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my recent school visits. I’m traveling the country to meet my readers and it is the most wonderful feeling in the world! I especially love meeting children from a Pakistani or Muslim heritage, because they just can’t contain their excitement when they see me, a Muslim woman wearing the hijab. They want to ask me about my life, and they crowd around me to hug me. I can’t tell you how fulfilling and rewarding it is to see the realization dawn in their eyes, that their stories can also be told and enjoyed. 

Look for Yasmin the Teacher, Yasmin the Superhero, Yasmin the Chef, and Yasmin the Zookeeper on January 1, 2019. 


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