The Proudest Blue

Black lives matter. They have always mattered, and they will always matter. See the link after the review for ways to get involved.

the proudest blue

The Proudest Blue, written by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S. K. Ali, tells the story of Faizah’s thoughts and feelings as her older sister wears a hijab to school for the first time.

The day begins with Faizah excited—excited about school, about her light-up shoes, and about walking alongside her princess of a sister in her new blue hijab. When a friend asks about Asiya’s hijab, Faizah’s answer comes out in a whisper, and she starts to feel unsure, because “Asiya’s hijab isn’t a whisper. Asiya’s hijab is like the sky on a sunny day.” She is reassured when she asks Asiya if she’s excited about her hijab, and Asiya nods and smiles big. Faizah also takes comfort in her mother’s words: “The first day of wearing hijab is important. . . . It means being strong.” During art, she draws a picture of herself and Asiya in matching blue scarves. After the whisper, Faizah likewise deals with a laugh and a shout in the same way: by drawing on her sister’s calm strength and her mother’s words.

There is so much to love about this book. I love the way Faizah is proud of her sister. I love the way Asiyah owns her hijab and her faith and her right to be her. I love the way Faizah remembers her mother’s words while seeing Asiya’s actions, drawing strength from both of them.

The illustrations, by the talented Hatem Aly, are some of my favorite picture book illustrations ever. They are perfect: the way that Faizah and Asiya sometimes appear in front of a muted background, so that they stand out as the queens that they are; the way that unkind people appear as shadows, reflecting their unimportance; and the facial expressions that expand on the text by showing how Asiya’s friends support her.

From a craft point of view, The Proudest Hijab is brilliant. It adapts a topic about older kids for a picture book audience while showcasing the relationship between the two girls and, by extension, their mother, creating a web of female faith and strength. I can’t recommend it enough for all readers.

Find it here: Goodreads | Little, Brown | | | Book Depository

Striving to Be an Antiracist

The Prophet ﷺ said that when we see an evil, we should change it with our hands, and if we can’t, we should change it with our tongues. In that spirit, get to work. Go to a protest. Contact your elected officials. Donate. Sign a petition. Speak up in your community. Call out friends and family if they say something racist. Interrogate your bookshelves. Make dua. And, most importantly, if you’re not Black, educate yourself and your children.

Children’s Books Featuring Black Characters
Black Books Matter: Children’s Books Celebrating Black Boys
Broadening the Story: 60 Picture Books Starring Black Mighty Girls

“Putting Justice Into Practice: Khutbah on the George Floyd Murder and Police Brutality by Dr. Tahir Wyatt

“Your Black Muslim Friends Are Not Okay, America’s Knee Is On Their Neck” by Nikia Bilal on MuslimMatters

Ways to help from BLM:

Under My Hijab

Under My Hijabby Hena Khan and illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel, follows a young Muslim girl as she introduces readers to the powerhouse women in her life who wear a hijab.

In this picture book for readers 2–7, we see the narrator’s family members and friends at work and school in their hijabs and then at home without them. For example, her grandma is a baker, and “her hijab is carefully folded, like the crusts on my favorite pies.” We then see our narrator and her grandma baking cookies at home, where her grandma wears her hair in a bun. View Post

Yes, I’m Hot in This

Yes, I’m Hot in This: The Hilarious Truth about Life in a Hijab is a book of comics about wearing a hijab and being visibly Muslim in America by Huda Fahmy. I found it laugh-out-loud funny at times and a sharp social commentary at others. But it is so relatable, and that means a lot to me. This book pokes fun at the hilarity that can rather surprisingly ensue from a simple piece of fabric, and it speaks the truth about some of the more difficult things hijabis have had to face with honesty and empathy.  View Post

Nanni’s Hijab by Khadijah Abdul-Haqq

Nanni’s Hijab, a picture book by Khadijah Abdul-Haqq and illustrated by Vitchapol Taerattanachai, is a heartwarming and empowering book about a strong female character who uses her intelligence and empathy to win over a bully with love.

Everyone loves Nanni’s colorful hijabs. Everyone except Leslie, the new girl at school, who tells Nanni she hates her “stupid he-jobs,” spills milk on her, and pulls her hijab off one day on the playground. View Post

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi


It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons breakdancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down. [Taken from the publisher’s blurb.]

I really enjoyed this YA contemporary about a Muslim high school student who is the victim of constant microaggressions. 

The main character, Shirin, is the best part of this book for me. She is such a complex and fantastic character. So used to being disappointed, she has given up on her fellow human beings, and even stops looking at the people around her, out of fear. But she’s so smart, beautiful, and badass that she intimidates everyone. So the irony of the shell she’s built up around herself is that she’s put it up for her own protection, but everyone else thinks they need protection from her. View Post