Teachers for Teachers | It’s Monday! We are Reading Amina’s Voice #IMWAYR
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It’s Monday! We are Reading Amina’s Voice #IMWAYR

The Washington Post called Hena Khan’s novel, Amina’s Voice, a step toward greater diversity in children’s books and we call Amina’s Voice a must-read middle grade novel.  There is so much to this book.  It is a coming of age story, a story of friendship; and a story that helps students grapple with the horrors of hate crimes.

Amina, like most students in middle school, is trying to figure out where she belongs.  She is a talented musician and singer, yet is afraid to perform in front of others.   When her family’s mosque is vandalized, Amina realizes that her voice is one way to soothe the hardships her community is facing.   Through facing her fears and singing to console others, Amina “finds her voice.”

The way Hena Khan plays with the meanings of the word “voice” is powerful.  As middle-grade students read, they can ponder what it means to “find your voice” and how different characters’ grow, learn and change.  Students will connect with these characters and want to discuss the internal journey each experiences.  Readers are drawn to consider the differences and similarities between how Amina’s friend Soojin, her brother Mustafa, and her Uncle Thaya John find their voice.

Amina’s Voice is also a story that explores friendship and the complexities of relationships that arise during middle school. The book deals with holding grudges, jealousy, and keeping secrets.  Readers will find lots of connections to what the characters in this book face and will hopefully gain insights and new perspectives.  We love that the characters’ in this book are complicated and require readers to think about multiple points of view.  By noticing the ways the characters’ impact each other, readers gain a deeper understanding of each character’s fears and hopes.

Amina’s Voice also gives students a chance to explore the horrors of hate crimes in a developmentally appropriate way.   Through the story line, readers get a glimpse into life at the Islamic Center, listen to how the characters’ lives are impacted when vandalism destroys the mosque and community center, and learn how people come together support one another.  It is truly a book of hope and a book that is needed in every middle grade classroom library.

Amina’s Voice is the first book published by Salaam Reads, an imprint dedicated to publishing books that feature Muslim characters and stories.  If you want to learn more about Salaam Reads, here is an article from the New York Times.  Thank you, Hena Khan, for this important book, and thank you to Salaam Reads for bringing this book to all of us.

7 Comments
  • Kris (Words That Fly)
    Posted at 12:19h, 04 December Reply

    I love the way you break down this book and how it will help middle graders think past the immediate story on the page. I’m really loving the growing diversity in books, which are becoming a good way to learn about other cultures and religions in an age where there can be a lot of miscommunication.

  • Linda Baie
    Posted at 14:36h, 04 December Reply

    I just bought Amina’s Voice last week at my favorite bookstore. I’ve been hearing so much about it that it was time to buy. Thanks for sharing about the story. I’m sure I will love it!

  • Stacy @ It's All About the Journey
    Posted at 00:48h, 05 December Reply

    I really enjoyed Amina’s Voice. I am going to share your review with my students. I love your thoughts on voice.

  • Lisa Maucione
    Posted at 02:07h, 05 December Reply

    This is a great book. The Gauntlet is another book from the same imprint. It’s a totally different kind of book, but really interesting.

  • Myra from GatheringBooks
    Posted at 11:06h, 05 December Reply

    Sounds like an important book that will resonate with a lot of young readers struggling to find their “own voice.” Thank you for such a detailed review.

  • Jane the Raincity Librarian
    Posted at 17:07h, 05 December Reply

    This just sounds so incredibly lovely, a story that manages to be both very personal, and very universal at the same time.

  • Michele
    Posted at 17:20h, 06 December Reply

    Love this book! We used it for Mock Newbery and the discussions kids had around this book were interesting. I’m glad they started this new imprint.

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