Exploring Education at WIS
Hena Khan visits the Primary School
Recently, many of our Primary School students had the opportunity to meet Maryland-born Hena Khan, a Pakistani-American Muslim author of children’s stories. Growing up, Khan loved to read and would bring home bags of books from her local library. However, she quickly recognized that none of the stories reflected her own life experiences, so she set out to change that. Her most recent novel, Amina’s Voice, is about “a Pakistani-American Muslim girl [who] struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community.” While Khan writes about the universal issues facing most young students, such as self-doubt and changing friendships, she also addresses some unique issues facing young Pakistani-American Muslims in a world where Islamophobia is on the rise. One of her goals in writing these novels is to educate her readers about Islam and what it’s like to be part of the Muslim community in the United States.
Our students were thrilled to meet Ms. Khan and get the chance to chat with her. She shared with them information about her Muslim faith, such as: using prayer carpets, praying five times a day facing toward Mecca, and special traditions during the holy month of Ramadan. She also talked to the students about using her own life and culture as an inspiration for her writing.
Some reactions from the students:
“I thought that it was very interesting to hear what inspired her to write. A lot of authors who come have wonderful presentations, but they never really elaborate on why they decided to write of all the other professions. I think it was a pretty moving origin story, about her writing, and I really like her writing, so it was interesting to see her in person and be able to communicate with her.”
“She’s really proud of her country.”
“She’s creative and interesting.”
“Her stories are relatable. She bases them on her life.”
“She helped us find at least one thing we could relate to in her book, Amina’s Voice — normal things that could happen to a kid, like jealousy.”
“She tried to show a little of what’s happening in the world, how she wanted to help these people — like not all Muslims are terrorists, and a lot of people think they are.”
“She writes in both English and Arabic — it’s interesting that they write from right to left in Arabic.”
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