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The Baldwin School Library was excited to host award-winning author Hena Khan on December 5. Khan is a Pakistani American Muslim who enjoys writing about her culture and religion. She met with students in PreK – Grade 6 to share her journey as a writer, experience writing and the need for more diverse stories. This event supports Baldwin's commitment to expose students to diverse cultures and perspectives.
Khan wrote her first picture book, Night of the Moon, after going to her young son's classroom for a "Ramadan" party and realizing there weren't any appropriate children's books about the holiday. During her visit with Baldwin's PreK - Grade 1 students, she talked about Muslim culture while reading her book, Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim book of Colors. She gave visual examples such as a prayer rug and showed the students what she looked like with a hijab on, verbally confirming that she was still the same person even if she looked a little different.
For Grades 2-5, Khan discussed how everyone could be heroic overcoming their own obstacles, such as being shy or having stage fright. She shared how when she was growing up that she loved books, but felt invisible because she never saw a character who looked like her, a Muslim Pakistani American.
For Grade 5 students, Khan presented an educational workshop on how to improve their writing. She gave tips and tricks about what she has learned as an author. During her visit with Baldwin's 6th graders, Khan talked about the importance of sharing different cultural heritages, as well as unique worldviews, through the art of storytelling, which is one of the best way to educate ourselves, as well as combat hate and fear. Khan's middle grade book, Amina's Voice, is a realistic and touching portrait of a girl, Amina, struggling with changing friend dynamics, family drama and an act of vandalism that affects her entire community. Khan noted that she strives to ensure all of her characters find ways to celebrate their heritage and are proud of their cultural and religious backgrounds.
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns was selected by the American Library Association as a 2013 Notable Children's Book, while Amina's Voice was featured on NPR Books and was recommended as a "relatable portrayal of a tween who wants to fit in and who's devoted to her faith even amid her confusion about her family's varied approaches to it."