As part of my writing process, I read dozens of books by other nonfiction authors. When I read, I make notes about the craft choices authors make in terms of voice, structure, POV, and other unique elements that add up to amazing books. I recently decided to share my notes (in a searchable format), so teachers and fellow writers can see what I find new and noteworthy. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Book: MUSLIM GIRLS RISE: Inspirational Champions of Our Time
Author: Saira Mir
Illustrator: Aaliya Jaleel
Publication Info.: Salaam Reads (October 29, 2019, available for preorder wherever books are sold).
Ages/Grades: first grade and up (ages 6 and up)
Categories: collective biography, expository, third person
- to appear above the horizon
- to increase in intensity
- to attain a higher level
- to come into being
- to exert oneself to meet a challenge”
Overview (from the publisher):
Little Leaders meets Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls in this gorgeous nonfiction picture book that introduces readers to nineteen powerhouse Muslim women who rose up and made their voices heard.
Discover the true stories of nineteen unstoppable Muslim women of the twenty-first century who have risen above challenges, doubts, and sometimes outright hostility to blaze trails in a wide range of fields. Whether it was the culinary arts, fashion, sports, government, science, entertainment, education, or activism, these women never took “no” for an answer or allowed themselves to be silenced. Instead, they worked to rise above and not only achieve their dreams, but become influential leaders.”
What’s noteworthy for authors and educators:
A little backstory: I lived in Dharan, Saudi Arabia for two years growing up, so I have strong feelings about the overwhelmingly negative way the religion of Islam and its people are portrayed in America today. With that in mind, Saira Mir’s inspirational and empowering book about modern-day Muslim women heroes is a breath of fresh air. In this book, kids meet Amanda Saab, an outstanding cook, who feeds her neighbors’ souls and bellies with her Dinner With Your Muslim Neighbor program.
They meet Amani Al-Khatahtbeh who started the website Muslimgirl.com as a place of positivity for Muslim young women.
They meet a fashion designer. A congresswoman. A flight controller. Activists. Athletes. Comic book creators. As Saira Mir reminds us, “Muslim women make history every day. … By refusing to give up they achieved greatness.” This book would be motivational reading for any child.
For writers, collective biographies are less common than single-subject biographies. Yet, they provide wonderful, bite-sized reading. The key to a successful collective biography is a strong theme and takeaway that unites all the subjects. The unifying principle is normally discussed in an initial spead and re-emphasized at the end. Other notable examples include WOMEN WHO DARED, GOOD NIGHT STORIES FOR REBEL GIRLS, and WOMEN IN SCIENCE.
Additional resources for authors, educators, and parents:
- Learn about Islam from Khan Academy and Kids Britannica.
- Cook some Middle Eastern-inspired dishes from Amanda Saab.
- PBS’s Frontline developed a teachers guide and activities to accompany its program MUSLIMS.