04 Dec 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.