Title: The Proudest Blue, A Story of Hijab and Family
Author: Ibtihaj Muhammad with S. K. Ali
Illustrator: Hatem Aly
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2019
Themes: hijabs, faith, sisters, bullying, Islam, social justice, rites de passage
Mama hold out the pink. Mama Loves Pink. I know why Behind teh counter is the brightest blue. The color of the ocean, if you squint your eyes and pretend there’s no line between the water and the sky. It’s the first-day hijab. Asiya knows it. I know it. We’re sisters.
Synopsis:A powerful, vibrantly illustrated story about the first day of school–and two sisters on one’s first day of hijab–by Olympic medalist and social justice activist Ibtihaj Muhammad. With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.
Why I like this book:
This story has such a positive message and beautiful poetic imagery that the text and illustrations will stay with you along time. Little sisters look up to older sisters usually and for Faizah watching her older sister buy her first hijab and wear it to school on the first day is a special moment. The reality that both sisters face some bullying on this first-hijab day feels very authentic. And the artist’s/art director’s choice to portray the bullies in an anonymous way is powerful. Hatem Aly’s illustrations are just stunning as they sweep you into the ocean/sky blue color (and metaphor) that Asiya selects for her hijab.
Ultimately this is a universal story about rites of passage, sisterly bonds, standing strong against hurtful words, and being proud of who your are. In our days of xenophobia and mistrust of difference, it is also a beautiful celebration of a Muslim family’s faith and togetherness, and is a wonderful way of opening up conversations with young children during story time about what a hijab symbolises, accepting differences and combating bullying.
This story will help students celebrate differences and take strength in their own faith, traditions, and family.
A co-author’s note from Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, about her very own experiences as a child and adult is shared at the back of the book. With so many celebrity books being published these days, I am happy to see this being co-authored with a picture book writer.
Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and/or activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found sorted alphabetically and by topics, here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.