Season 2 Episode 6 Transcript: Hena Khan

Picture Bookstagang Podcast: Picture Books and Justice

Show Notes PB&J Hena Khan Interview

PB&J: Interview with Hena Khan & Guest host Rabia Khokar

Episode summary: 

    Corrie and Rabia chat with author Hena Khan about her inspiration, experiences, and thoughts on her groundbreaking body of work as a Muslim picturebook and middle grade author.

Topics discussed in this episode: 

-Topic 1 Introduction to the Hena Khan [0:53]

-Topic 2 Salaam Reads Imprint  [2:40]

-Topic 3 Hena’s Writing Evolution [5:00]

-Topic 4 Moving away from stories of trauma [11:40]

-Topic 5 Children are not teachable moments [17:03]

-Topic 6 Community [19:26]

-Topic 7 Books Hena is Excited About [25:28]

-Topic 8 What Hena Hopes for her Readers [30:30]

Books, Resources, Etc. Mentioned

Preorder Hena’s Book 

Books mentioned 

Amina’s Voice

Amina’s Song 

More To The Story 

Zara’s Rules for Record Breaking Fun

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

Under My Hijab.

It’s Ramadan Curious George 

Follow the Hena Khan 

On Instagram https://www.instagram.com/henakhanbooks/

On Twitter https://twitter.com/henakhanbooks?lang=en

Website https://henakhan.com/

Episode transcript: For a transcript of this audio recording head over to https://picturebookstagang.wordpress.com/

Find our guest host Rabia Khokar 

On Instagram https://www.instagram.com/rabia_khokhar/

On Twitter @Rabia_Khokar1

Website https://www.rabiakhokhar.com/ 

Thanks for Listening!

– Subscribe to our podcast on Google, Apple, Spotify 

– Follow us on Instagram @Picturebookstagang

– Visit our website https://picturebookstagang.wordpress.com/

– Follow our hosts on Instagram @thetinyactivists @Inclusivestorytime @readwithriver

Hena Khan Interview

0:10  Corrie: Hello, everyone. Thanks so much for joining us on the Picture Bookstagang podcast. I am Corrie. My pronouns are she or they, and I am a host flying solo today. Ale and Kelly will not be joining us unfortunately, they are off living other busy, exciting lives, but get excited because I have two amazing guests today.

I am so thrilled to be able to introduce you to both of them. One of them is a very dear friend of mine. Her name is Rabia Khokar and then the other one is the incredibly impressive and illustrious author. Hena Khan. Hello, welcome both of you. 

0:50 Hena: Hello, thank you so much. 

0:52 Rabia: Thank you so much too. 

Corrie: So I thought that I would open with a little bit of information about Hena in case anybody is unsure, although I’m sure once I start listing off the books, she’s written, everybody will recognize it. And then Rabia is also going to tell us a little bit about herself as well. So Hena Khan is a Pakistani American Muslim author , who was born and raised in Maryland. She enjoys sharing and writing about her culture and religion. She is the author of middle grade novels. Amina’s Voice, Amina’s Song More To The Story and, the book Zara’s Rules for Record Breaking Fun is coming out in April, she’s also written the picture books, Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, Under My Hijab. And It’s Ramadan Curious George, you can learn more about Hena and her books by visiting her website and Instagram, which will be linked in the show notes. So make sure you check those out. And so Rabia, what can you tell us about yourself?

1:50 Rabia Well, it’s an honor to be here with you both. I’m an elementary teacher in Toronto. I’m also a first year PhD student and I’m very, very passionate about picture books then really using pictures books as tools for social justice education in the classroom. And I have read like every book of Hena Khan’s, so I I’m such a fan and so star struck to be here.

2:17 Corrie: Now, let’s dive in henna. We have so many questions for you, but we will play it. Cool. We’re cool people., it’s obviously true if you have to tell people it’s true. So, the first thing that I wanted to talk about is how amazing that the Salaam reads. That you started through Simon and Schuster. It’s celebrating its 5th anniversary, which is so cool. How are you feeling about that? 

2:40 Hena: Oh, so great. Well, I should clarify that. I, I didn’t start the imprint, but my book launched it. 

Corrie: I’m so sorry. 

Henna: Oh no, no, no. I just can’t take credit for it because the idea, but, my editor, my former editors are me and Jeffrey., came up with the idea for Salaam reads and pitched it to Simon and Schuster who was on board.And, then they decided that my book I’m gonna, his voice was. Launched the imprint, which was a huge honor for me., at the time we had been shopping the book around to different, you know, different publishers and answering was definitely at the top of our list. And when we sold it, we didn’t know about this in print yet. So, I learned when the rest of the world learned through the New York times, I think it was. And so it was, it was a really big deal. And for me, someone who had been in  publishing for a little bit had been, you know, begging on doors, trying to get published, to have this. This, you know, home for my, my work that,, you know, felt like such a, as afe space, a welcoming space, a place that I really believe in, in terms of what it’s trying to do and, really showcasing different Muslim voices that, you know, for too long, weren’t heard. You know, it’s been, it’s been an honor for me to be a part of it, and I’m just so proud that it’s still, still going strong five years later and, and putting out new and exciting books. 

 Corrie: Yeah, thank you for all that background info. I, misunderstood when it said that you launched it. I was like, yeah. So this imprint, I, especially now that we know a little bit more of the backstory, I would love to know how this imprint impacted you and supported your passion to tell stories that center unapologetic Muslim characters, you know, you’re known for creating these really powerful and memorable characters and.I would just love to know how Salaam reads impacted your writing. 

4:40 Hena: A lot of it had to do with feeling very well understood in terms of the types of stories I wanted to tell and why I wanted to tell them, I felt like I didn’t have to explain or justify. My reasoning and I felt like Zareen and I were very much on the same page as to the types of stories we wanted to see out there and stories that weren’t necessarily, uh, refuting. The narrative that was already out there about who Muslims are. Cause we, we found that that was often happening, that people felt like they had to fight back or push back against what people might be saying or thinking. And instead, you know, having the freedom to just tell stories about families like my own, characters who aren’t necessarily struggling with their identity or feeling, like the biggest challenge in their life is because of who they are as either south Asians, in my case, or as, you know, Muslims as children of immigrants whatever it was, what layers of their identity they had. And instead they could focus on. Just being kids and their experiences, you know, it’s all their identity layers are just moving into the stories.

 My goal was to really create relatable likable characters and families that people wanted to know more about and read more about and, and feel like they were a part of just like the books. I really connected with them loved when I was growing up. 

5:58 Corrie: That’s amazing. That’s so powerful. Thank you.

6:00 Rabia: Yeah, I think I’m just reflecting a youth your book, Amina’s Voice, when I was teaching at a mostly racially homogenous school community, most of my students were racially white and, they really loved the story because it was so versatile and there were so many entry points for them. And for all kids really Those everyday universal bits that your stories have, whether it’s like stage fright or friendship family, that’s really what kids connect to. And I think that’s what builds bridges of understanding. And, when you can see yourself, but you can also learn about somebody who might be different from you. That’s what my, students really, related to that aspect of. Through that like connection and that bridge building, they also learned about like really big topic, like Islamophobia and what happens when something terrible happens to people that you love and care about in your community.  I guess that takes us kind of to the next question, which is, you’re a really versatile writer. You’ve written so many different types of books, like picture books, middle grade, um, And so I guess we’re just interested. How do you think your writing has evolved over time? And does the local  broader and global sociopolitical context inform or impact your writing?  And you talked about this a little bit, but do you think that your writing, sort  of counters, they form a phobia that we see in the mean. A lot of questions.

7:30 Hena: So I’ll try, I’m trying to remember the pieces, but, in terms of how my writings evolved, I definitely think that when I began writing for children, I was very much aware of. What my children are going to encounter growing up. And at that time, the seeds of Islamophobia were planted and had worked growing. We weren’t quite where we are now because this is back in the early two thousands. But I did, I did see, you know, in a post 9/11 climate, the increased curiosity about homeless slums are, you know, Believe in, you know, what happens in our mosques, things like that, just basic information that people didn’t have. And, and then when it came to being a mother of children, you know, knowing that people had curiosity around our customers, traditions, holidays, things that, you know, as a kid growing up in United States, I didn’t feel like I had the chance to share in a school setting. So for me initially, I felt like it was. Um, I felt very much that my role in my writing was to inform or to teach, you know, the hello Alisa we’re Muslim. And this is, this is what we’re about in a very basic way. So, I started with the picture books, and then I think gradually, you know, with, with ominous voice being my first novel, I do think that the political climate, the social climate was in the back of my mind as I was writing it because book came out in 2017, but I had written it for years before that.

And before it was actually published. But I had been hearing about things like mosque vandalism, for example. So that was something I definitely did want to include in the story. For me it wasn’t central to the story in the sense that for me, um, going his journey was really about herself and her confidence and her friendships and her finding her voice. And that was just a piece of the story. And, and it was interesting that when that book was published, you know, in 2017, the world had shifted since I had written it. And there was a lot more. Uh, unfortunately, a lot more news like that in, in the news, like, you know, tragedies like Moss Springs and so on.  And all of a sudden that became a bigger part of the story to readers, and to educators, uh, to use it as a tool for having conversations that, you know, of course need to be had. But, for me, you know, it was, it was a small piece and I feel like it’s, it’s always in the back of my mind when I’m writing. But I don’t want to be in your face. Like you mentioned earlier, I don’t want to be apologetic in any way. It is for me a matter of, you know, writing the things that perhaps I  grapple with myself and try to make sense of them, but things I know that children are thinking about and hearing and trying to make sense of as I just try to grow up and as  normal and happy a way as possible.

10:03 Rabia: Thank you for that. And I think your point about. All of these things, being bits and pieces of the characters journey is so important because, there tends to be a focus so much on these like different aspects and that becomes like your only story or the characters only story. And I like how your characters are complete characters. They’re memorable and they’re complete, and they’re true to themselves. And they’re given, the space to grow into who they are. I think that’s something that, you know, kids can really relate to. And growing up as hard. And I think kids can see themselves in those intersections realities that are individual, but also like collective experiences. 

10:45 Hena: Absolutely. Yeah. And I think something I’ve been thinking about more recently is, you know, wanting to give kids the space and literature where they can get. You know, feel proud of who they are and, and be excited about who they are without having to necessarily confront some of these bigger world issues, or social justice issues. And I feel like it’s important, obviously for kids to be educated about these things. I’m aware of them and know that they have a voice and that they can stand up against depression of various forms and so on. But at the same time, they’re kids. And I feel like they need stories to tell. You know, entertain themselves and to feel proud of and to feel like they’re the heroes and, and just see themselves reflected in a narrative that isn’t necessarily about something difficult.  Other than the regular difficulties of childhood, if that makes sense. 

11:30 Rabia: Yeah. Just stories to affirm them completely. Right. Find belonging as well through them. 

11:40 Corrie:  Definitely. I completely understand. And I had a question for you too, about drawing some parallels, because we can sort of see the shift from books that solely focus on defending, one person’s identity or going through trauma, coming out the other side, me personally being queer that’s, you know what I notice in the media as well, because like, that’s my lived experience.  Especially in the last couple of years with some of the picture books coming out that seek to show that it’s okay to be queer and have same sex parents and celebrate that joy without necessarily focusing on the trauma and dehumanization that comes along with defending, your own personal identity. I am sort of wondering or interested in listening to you pontificate on, the shift in literature that we see that comes right through defending one’s personal identity and like personhood to then now how we can see some of these stories. Celebrate the brilliance and cultural richness of a specific committee. 

12:50 Hena: Yeah, for sure. I think that was something that, I thought about a lot, and I’ve talked to colleagues and other authors about it and, and I  remember there was that really important piece. I think Denene Millner wrote for the New York times about Black children, not only needing to read about Harriet Tubman and I felt like that was something that I had been feeling. And, and when she expressed it that way, I was like, yes, this is, this is exactly what I’m thinking about. And then, a dear librarian friend was talking to me about, how the unintended consequences sometimes of only sharing these types of stories, whatever group it is, portraying can sort of evoke eventually, um, It’s a sense of pity maybe from, from peers in the classroom. And so that was something I thought about a lot, that if I was in school today as a little hint of like what type of  stories would bring me joy, and make me feel, excited to read them. And definitely I would want the stories that dealt with overcoming bullying, or some kind of discrimination or facing Islamophobia. And I would want to read about other groups who were overcoming struggles as well. Like I definitely. Just knowing who I am would would want those stories, but I definitely feel like there is a need and children deserve to just have fun and, and stories and to feel like they don’t have to be a lesson for someone else. You know, like them are different from them, you know, and that, if it is just about, you know, Whatever’s whether it’s following your passion or owning up a mistake, dealing with the big change in life or just these very fundamental things that children have to go through. Just deciding what you’re good at or whatever it is.  I think it’s fun to read. The stories that, you know, just don’t have that,  that weight. So, that is something where I feel like I definitely have pieces of , in my book. So she, my longer middle grade fiction, for example, More to the Story, my character Jameela is it’s a. Inspired by little women’s story. She touches on and deals with that concept of microaggressions as a journal, a budding journalist and middle school. And that was something that, you know, I was grappling with and learning about when I was writing the book and realizing how valuable it was for me as a person to have a term for all those things that have been bothering me over the years. And so that was something that made its way into the book, but it wasn’t like the theme of the whole entire book. And so that’s where I feel like I’m trying to balance that need or, sense of wanting to teach or wanting to, you know, shove things down people’s throats, and then remembering what I would want to read as a child or what I, what I want out there.

15:19 Corrie: Yeah, for sure. Cause it definitely makes for a more nuanced and multi-faceted character, if not everything is perfect all the time, but you’re exactly right. I love how you phrased it of, you know, somebody isn’t a lesson for somebody else, which if we want to draw on parallels from the real world, Historically black history month, you know, that’s how it’s very much been celebrated. Now we’re sad for 28 days. And then we forgot about it. I’ve seen so many good points about folks being like, but enslavement isn’t black history, it’s white history. So February should be a time to look to the future and celebrate. And I just love that concept. Being infused into literature 

16:08 Hena: or even more recent history, you know, since the civil rights movement. Cause that was what it was like for me as a kid and five, when I was little, it was more recent than it is now, but even still, you know, so much has happened since then that, you know, people who are worthy of being, you know, heroes, more modern heroes and other things to celebrate and look to.

16:28 Corrie: And I think it’s so powerful to be able to look to, to a person that is here and now that is you could even become inspired and like have a class write letters to, and incorporating more contemporary figures, I think is a very. I wish I had like a nice way to describe it. I just think it’s respectful, you know, to like recognize the amazing work that people are doing while still honoring the past, because the past is why we have these amazing folks here doing all sorts of things. 

17:03 Rabia: I would agree. I think it’s really important that, we think critically about who’s supposed to teach who, and if we think that children or particular children of different identities are like supposed to be lessons, I wonder what the impact of that is. Like, if you are that child in that classroom, then is everyone going to be looking at you? Uh, in my experience, I have been that child, you know, where the questions are coming to you and you’re just like, you’re like nine years old and you have to answer all of these really tough questions. And so I think your book, provide multiple entry points, for kids of different identities to just. I think like affirm all of those universal experiences of being a child, but also learn about people of different identities and, some things that are important for them. Some things that might be different from them. And I think that’s kind of where the solidarity is, where I can kind of, I see myself in you  and I think that’s really important too.

Build that relationship. And, I see myself in you, like I see similarities, but I also see differences. And then how can we, honor those and still respect those? And I think, you know, that goes into kind of our next question, which is. One of the really beautiful running themes  in your work is, um, the interconnections between people and communities. And, when I read your books to my students, that’s something that they really pick up on. And that’s something that they really see that, they have a place to kind of like make a difference, whether it’s just to be somebody’s friend or just to, see like somebody else’s, humanity through things that are similar to them or things that might be different for them. You know, my students really. Really like love that running theme. Your work really shows how people of different identities and communities can kind of come together, foster relationships and really work towards a common goal. And that common goal is contextual and it might be different based on whatever we’re trying to work towards. If we’re trying to improve something or, you know, whatever we’re trying to do. And so I guess, uh, just interested in hearing, like, can you talk about like your process and how, you know, the things that are happening in your books can kind of mirror and help young people do this work in their real life, build those relationships and solidarities and community.

19:26 Hena: Yeah. Oh, I, I love that you said that because that’s something that I hadn’t considered, but now that you’re saying it, I’m like, oh, I see, I see what you’re saying, but that’s really, really nice to hear. I think for me, you know, my, my community, I think maybe for me also being, a child of immigrants and. You know, who were very much held onto their culture for them, community was essential. And I think,, In a neighborhood that, I still live very close to, so I haven’t moved very far my entire life. So even I still visit that neighborhood daily cause my mom still lives there. And so I think that sense of belonging is, is something really important to me, but also in terms of exploring what it means to be part of a community, I think, you know, whether it is.  Aspirational and I wrote Amina’s Voice. The response of the community to what happens at the mosque was very aspirational in my mind, based on memories of, of what had happened in my community years ago when I was a child, when synagogues were defiled and remembering the outcry and the support of the community. And I thought, well, something like that were to happen to the Muslim community. I would hope for the same unity and stepping up. And so, and of course, thankfully we have seen that, in the aftermath of tragedies, And more to the story in terms of process. I have a neighbor whose, whose daughter went. Treatment and, and fundraising actually, as a result of her,, remission for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And I know I was a witness to that and she, not only helped me with understanding what it was like to go through that for my character, this in More to the Story, but also, what’s involved in terms of being a big fundraiser for light the night and for the leukemia lymphoma society.

So that went into the story. You know, my son and I were part of a, refugee  resettlement organization here that was setting up apartments for newly arrived refugee families. And that went into Amina’s Song. So I definitely do draw from. Actual experiences, but also I think I’m attracted to the stories of people who are making a difference and, and children specifically who are, are doing things. Cause they’re all around us, these kids who, who do get involved and not because it’s a, you know, a requirement necessarily for school, but who, you know, who just step up and do things because they. 

20:45 Rabia: I love that. And oftentimes the message is so much kids have to kind of like grow up and then create a change, or, we have to wait until we’re a certain age and then we can make an impact. Then I think your books really show that kids of all ages or, people of all ages, Through their actions, whether they’re individual actions or systemic actions really can make a difference. And those differences have an impact, on their local community, as well as their broader community. And I just love the fact that we’re inspiring kids to think critically, about their context and also consider like what they can do to make things better, whatever that goal is. That’s something that’s really close to my heart. And I think your books really, sort of provide blueprints for communities or kids, to think and look like this is kind of how it happened in the book. Maybe this is something that we can do in our committee. 

22:32 Hena: Oh, that’s that? Yeah. And I also think it’s important to give kids a variety of examples of things, you know, big and small. So it can be at an organizational level where you’re a part of an effort, you know, that involves a community or a group or whatever it is. But then also on the very individual level, you know, just having a conversation or giving a school presentation, or just little things that you can do, you know, donating your time to help someone. Like one particular individual, like all of those things can, can make a small difference too. So like you said, it doesn’t feel like overwhelming, like, oh, I must have, you know, this grand, gesture or time or commitment to something as a child who may not have resources or access to all of those.

23:13 Rabia: I think just expanding the idea of how to create change is important for kids because, you’re right. Like oftentimes the examples that were shown are very like, can be like super big. And I think it’s important to show a variety so that kids also like learn that, you know, there’s different ways. To contribute and like, where do I fit in? I think that’s important for kids, you know, just to have those ideas. And once we present them with ideas, I, I feel like they always get more and more ideas. Like they’re super, creative, I think. 

23:46 Hena: Absolutely. And, something else. It was a big theme Amina’s Song but the fact that you don’t have to have all the answers, you know, and that as a kid, the world is confusing and you do hear conflicting things. And sometimes, you know, it, it doesn’t make sense and that’s okay. Wrestle with that. And, you know, the idea for that book, I really thought about, , the single story and the, the danger of the single story and what we’re, what we’re absorbing and what we’re learning about each other and the messages we get. And, and those that can be, we see it now we see it every day of how hard it is as adults to grapple with. So I think for kids, I wanted that to be a part of the book where you, you know, in this book in particular, Amina’s wrestling with that. And, just to show that it’s okay to not feel like, you know exactly what’s going on because it’s still don’t really to do.

24:40 Rabia: Yeah. And think just to be honest about that with kids is powerful too, because oftentimes, you know, there are those ideas that like, you know, when you’re an adult, everything makes sense and it’s like, no, just get, yeah, 

 Corrie: I’m going to get better about hiding or confusion. I think I’m definitely still just as confused. Yeah, and I feel a little bit betrayed, you know? Cause you’re like, oh, if I had known adulthood is just full of more not knowing then yeah. Would have prepared me. 

25:11 Hena: Yeah. I think we pretend so that they think that we, you know, we’re authority. Well, you don’t know any more than I do. I have to listen to you?

Rabia: There’s a fine line.

25:28 Corrie: Yeah. Yeah. So. They’re just so many authors and illustrators doing amazing work. So Rabia and I really wanted to ask you, uh, who you are looking forward to reading and learning from this year that have upcoming releases or just books that have been released previously. That you’re excited to read this year.

25:50 Hena: Oh yeah. So I’ve got a bunch of, right behind me on my bookshelf, that are on my TBR or books that I recently read. And, you know, I tend to read, a lot of middle grade fiction since that’s what my that’s where my heart is. So it’s, it’s, it’s a huge list, but,, Gosh, in terms of authors with upcoming books,, I’m really excited to read Saba Harris, All My Rage, which is why actually I don’t read a ton of way, but I’m really excited for that. Um, I have, I should say it’s Omar Rising , which, is next. I just finished, actually an advanced copy of a book by Millie consciously. His second I loved his debut the best at it. If you, if you haven’t read it, it’s brilliant. And oh my goodness. There’s just so many. has a new, a new one coming out called Golden Girl.

 Corrie: I feel like Golden Girl, that’s a really recent release. I think that was maybe just out like last week or something, so people should definitely get on it. 

Hena: Yeah. And it’s such a great theme. I haven’t gotten my copy yet, but the idea of, you know, just kleptomania I haven’t read it. I was always fascinated by that as a kid. So, I’m curious to see,, Yeah, how she handles that. And I really loved unsettled. I thought that was beautifully done. I really enjoyed Sophia Costa makes a scene by Emma Teggy. Um, that also just came out recently if you’re looking for another,, good read. Gosh, there’s so many. I could just go on and on so many authors who I admire,, Karina Yan Glaser has a new, a new book coming out. I love her Vander beaker series, but she has a, a standalone. I love Renee Watson’s books. So her, ways to make sunshine series, the Ryan Hart series, was something that I was thinking about a lot when I was writing, Zara, when I was coming up with the idea for those are stars rule series, because Renee mentioned how, the Ryan Hart series, not only based on her knees, but also inspired by Ramona couldn’t be. And for me, Ramona Quimby was the ultimate growing up. Adored her and her antics and her neighborhood and her community, so we can have community. And that was something that I really wanted to, you know, kind of recreate in a book of mine. I love the Reinhardt series and, I’m looking forward to the next installment of that as well.

Corrie: I also just got Remi’s Rebellion by Margarita Engle, which just came out recently. I haven’t started it yet though. It’s just staring at me from the bookshelf right now, but, it’s all about a Cuban American girl protesting, for the suffragette movement in the 1920s. I don’t know if she’s in the U S or in Cuba. That’s as far as I’ve gotten, like I said, staring at me from the bookshelf, but that one sounds really good too. 

 Rabia: There’s so many beautiful books these days. I’m interested, you know, when your book comes out really Sundar’s rules for record-breaking fun. Is there something that you’re like most interested in folk, learning or reading from this, or, you know, taking a message from the book? Like what are you most excited about? 

Hena: I guess for me, you know, what I, what I really hope is that readers will just be excited about this book and you know, lose themselves in it. Cause that those are the types of stories I loved as a kid where you just felt like you were there in the moment with these characters, feeling their feelings and, you know, feeling their pain and their joy and all of it. And I feel like these books are lighter, I guess then that my middle grade. Which I don’t think is super heavy either, but, these there’s definitely have a more humorous and, and lighter feel. They’re quicker reads, so it’s early middle grade. And, I just feel like each book, even though Zahra is growing and changing and, realizing things in each of the books. You know, at the same time, there’s just a lot of, a lot of silliness. And, for me it was, it was fun to explore a character to who isn’t a specialist. I don’t know what to call it, but like, you know, a lot of, a lot of books we see with middle-grade characters, you know, they’re very formed children or they’re very, even my own, like, you know, I’m gonna, um, you know, she’s growing and struggling. She has this passion for music and, and for singing and. The Z series he’s very into basketball and, you know, has this basketball dream and Zara. You know, not like that she has a bunch of interests and we established it in those eight series that she’s the older sister in that, in that book where she’s sort of a quitter or she’s, that’s how he presents her, that, you know, well, she couldn’t send anything and she’s allowed to, so why am I not able to? And he lists this random assortment of things that she had done and, and failed out or. And so I love that idea of a kid who’s not necessarily singularly focused and driven and know, but just sort of out there being a kid and trying different things. And, so for me that I hope other kids will, you know, whether they’re passionate about one thing or many things too. We’ll, will find that refreshing that she’s sort of, you know, having a good time, trying to figure herself out and what she like. 

30:30 Corrie: Absolutely. I also think it’s so important to push back on that narrative that kids know what they want to be when they grow up and that it is never going to change. And it is a well-known fact, you know, how many times have we all been asked at? So I love the idea that there is a model for the kids who don’t know 

30:47 Hena: are we just don’t have like some,one particular thing that there, or even, you know, I feel like compared to when we were kids too, You know, kids are, tend to be so much more scheduled and, you know, informal training for something, whether it’s art or music or sports or whatever it is. Whereas, you know, when I was out, we were just on the street, you know, playing so that for me, I think writing these books, I was writing them during the pandemic and I felt like it was really. Authority for me to go into Stalmack for me to go back to my childhood and just the neighborhood games. And a lot of it, I took out of my own experiences growing up. So, the neighborhood, the family that lives across the street, a Jewish American family that moves in, is modeled after, some of my dearest friends who I grew up with and, And some of the, we were joking cause they were asking me recently, you know, did you put this in and did you put that in? And like they were listing all these things. Sometimes I go to bed, but I, you know, the hula hooping that you see on the cover of the book is, is something that I lifted straight from, from our lives and trying to break a Guinness world record. Um, so, so that was fun for me just to think about kids today and especially when they were, when they were trapped in doors.

You know, it didn’t have school that a lot. I did see many more kids outside than I had in so long. I wait, what’s kind of nice to see them just organizing themselves and playing in a way that I don’t think they always have the chance to. So that was important for me too. And I felt like it was fun. It was fun for me to write it. 

32:15 Rabia: I think that’s so important, what you’re saying, like how scheduled or how routine based everything is in our lives. They think it’s refreshing to sort of pause and think differently and, and show and highlight and center stories that show us, in different ways, doing different things and engaging in different ways. Right. I’m really excited to read your book. 

 Hena: Oh, thank you.

Corrie: Can’t wait either. It’s we have copies on the way. So both of us will be reading furiously and I hate to be the one that has to wrap this up, but,this is me wrapping it up and to. First of all just say, thank you so much, Hannah, for coming and answering our questions. It’s been a dream listening to you. And of course, you know, you’re a beautiful writer and I am so excited to read more of your work, but it was like, you know, nice having to get in my ear holes for a little bit. 

Rabia: It’s an honor, such an honor. Yes. That’s the perfect way. And where can people connect with you? Can you share your social media platforms? These will all be in the show notes, along with a pre-order link to Zara’s Rules For Record Breaking Fun. So fear not. Yeah, thank you. 

Hena: Yeah. I would love a, you can connect with me through my website, which is just enough on.com. And I’ve got a lot of content on there actually.  Recently I had a friend redo it for me and so there’s a lot of videos and, different stuff for educators and kids and resources there. So please check that out and if you want more timely up-to-date stuff, you can check me out on Instagram, Twitter at HENAAC on. And, I believe it’s the same on Facebook as well, and I’m not super active on Facebook, but I’m kind of hand books if you want to connect with me. And I’d love to hear from you. It’s my favorite thing to hear from, from readers and people actually consuming what I create. 

Corrie: Nice. Well, I work part-time at a book shop and the owner today was very excited and she wanted me to make sure that I told you how revolutionary under my hijab has been, for the preschoolers in the area. Yeah. We have, uh, some really cool, like outdoor nature preschool programs where I live in Massachusetts and friends with a handful of the teachers and really. But they love that one in particular. So I said that I would pass along that message. So shout out to Lexi at high five books.

Hena: Thank you, friends. 

Corrie: Well, I guess, can we use the awkward time? Yeah. Where we say thank you so much. And you we’ll talk to you later. 

Henna: Okay. Thank you so much

Books mentioned

Amina’s Voice

 Amina’s Song 

More To The Story 

Zara’s Rules for Record Breaking Fun

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

Under My Hijab.

It’s Ramadan Curious George

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