How These Muslim Children's Books Changed My Life by Sana Aaser
Posted on May 09, 2017
In May of 2016, I found myself at a crossroads. I had just graduated at the top of my class, completing my Masters in Education with a concentration in Equity and Social Justice. Alhamdulillah, this afforded me the opportunity to join almost any educational services organization in the San Francisco area. In addition, my university had recognized me with a prestigious award, and I had my dream job in hand. But I had a tough decision to make: should I continue on my path, or give it all up to join Noor Kids, a startup focusing on Muslim children’s books.
I decided on Noor Kids.
I worry about Muslim children in America. In an environment that is steeped in discrimination, how will these children feel like they belong? As Education Director at Noor Kids, I am on the frontline of helping to fix this problem by conducting research, developing resources, and creating Muslim children’s books to help kids build confidence in their religious identity.
In early 2016, I conducted first-of-its-kind research alongside San Francisco State University to identify the impact that Islamophobia was having on Muslim children. The results were alarming. For example, we discovered that 1 in 3 American Muslim children did not want to tell others that they are Muslim. Through Noor Kids, we are now replicating this research across North America to identify evidence-based solutions to this problem.
This research allows us to produce some of the highest-quality Muslim children’s books in the world. Our books are developed by a team of ten creative, scholarly, and educational experts and feature four characters- Amin, Shireen, Asad, and Amira- who help make Islam fun and relatable. Each story is designed to help children reflect and contemplate on their beliefs. Alhamdulillah, the response has been great and our work is now in over 25,000 homes across 25 different countries.
Over the last two years, we’ve expanded our impact through delivering programs for youth, parents, and teachers across the country. While Amin, our Founder and Managing Director, delivers amazing stories for youth (catch our next Live Storytime here!), I primarily focus on teacher training. The audience is older, but I promise it is just as exciting!
My own self-esteem as a Muslim was something I had struggled with myself as a child growing up in a predominantly white middle school in Texas. Fifteen years later, the challenge facing Muslim children is greater than ever.
At Noor Kids, we are doing everything we can to solve it. I am proud to be part of this work, and I encourage you to join us today! For the holy month of Ramadan, you can get $7 off any purchase using the coupon code: HAUTE17.
Sana is a leader in equity and social justice education. She received her M.A. in Education from San Francisco State University, where she was recognized with the University's highest honors for her original research on American Muslim identity among young children. Prior to joining Noor Kids, Sana was a fellow with New Sector Alliance and with Education Pioneers. With her natural curiosity to understand people and their many intersecting identities, Sana applies her knowledge of the social sciences to the field of education, engaging in research, curriculum design, and development. When she is not studying, Sana enjoys hiking in the sunshine, writing creative nonfiction, and experimental cooking.