Khadijah Goes To School, Community Survival Book

Khadijah Goes To School, Community Survival Bookkhadija goes school muslim author children book asim hussain

"It's a concept, a tool, a bridge, it isn't just a book for me." Ontario resident and published author Asim Hussain shares his new book 'Khadijah goes to School' with MUSLIMNESS readers in the United Kingdom.

A Story About You
Beginning as a self-funded project just under a year ago, Khadijah goes to School is a 28 page interactive book published in June 2011 for a universal audience. With a tag-line 'A story about You', the book's central theme is empowerment through contribution. It teaches readers about personal contributions to the local and global society as a means to build bridges between communities and to break down stereotypes.

Opening the book I found it breaks a 'bedtime' convention, flipping instead from left-to-right as is found in Arabic literature. Page numbers are accompanied by their Arabic counterparts and the main character Khadijah wears a hijab, all adding to the dual identity of the book.

Asim Hussain took a year out to create and self-publish Khadijah goes to School; feedback from family, work colleagues, strangers and the homeless were all essential before finalising the story. The effort has definitely paid off.

khadija goes school muslim author children book asim hussain
Author Asim Hussain reads from his new book, Khadijah goes to School, surrounded by his children, from left, Zayd, Sayf and Yusra Hussain, who did most of the illustrations. (Photo: Mississauga.com)

Ditty illustrations drawn by Asim's own children accompany the deeply cultured story line. We see images of mosques, 'Baba', the Arabic/Urdu title for father, and frequent use of the Islamic concept 'Read', historically revealed as the first word of the Qur'an. A book of ideas, Khadijah seems to reach out and talk to readers - an endearing personality for younger children.

khadija goes school muslim author children book asim hussainWhy Khadijah Goes To School

The first few sentences set a mantra of ethics from which the book flows. Human potential is explored and the importance of schooling for children is explained from a child's perspective. Khadijah is a young student, encountering time away from home at a new school, surrounded by new faces who in turn teach Khadijah how to cope - with life.

Khadijah learns about the lessons of life through a relatable struggle during her first week at school. An innocent child narrative makes an otherwise "grown-up" wisdom more translatable to all age groups.

MUSLIMNESS Reads Khadijah To Children (And Adults)
We took the book out to see what reactions it receives and found a genuine perked interest as we handed Khadijah goes to School to a group of young children aged 3-12.

Children from as young as 3 find the book's main text and hand drawn pictures easy to grasp; new phrases like 'pink monkey' creates giggles and smiles. Adults too have flipped through the pages with intrigue - questions and ideas inevitably followed. Toward the end of the book, a multi-lingual spread is dedicated to translations of the word 'Read', over 200 translations take over 5 minutes to digest and ponder which is an educational language lesson in itself.

The book creates a great discussion which is what we love the most about it. Every reader takes something unique for themselves, whether it's a new word added to their vocabulary or an lesson in ethics which they aspire to implement. Author Asim Hussain, wanted to ensure this book had value,
"This book is my ambassador to Canada, the United States, and wherever else this book may go. This book shares experiences and tells stories. It's a bridge builder, a device for communication, and discussion, and is for all people. It's something friends and neighbours can share across this nation," says Asim Hussain, author of Khadijah goes to School.

One and the only critical response was based on the type/font used on the front cover and back page. Sophisticated children found it difficult to read in one sitting as the calligraphy inspired text is for sharper eyes and faster readers.

There are no paragraphs (hurray!) and conventional story-telling is thrown out of the window since reading the book right-to-left we see a deliberate change in text size, pace and dialogue. Like a child's mind, the story speaks with an accent and a questioning tone. It's clear the book is the result of creativity that only children have the ability to create.

Bring Khadijah To Schools
To date, Khadijah goes to School has been launched in cities across Canada and Chicago, USA. I strongly think the book could be introduced to British schools, in particular for the new curriculum encouraging diversity and tolerance.

The book would make an excellent resource for younger minds and hopefully achieve a "classic" status. Thought-provoking questions end the book allowing to continue a discussion on the self, on education, on personal identity and stereotypes of other people. As the story of growing up and learning does not quite finish, we are left with a motivator; "This is not the end, this is just the beginning."

Stay updated on Facebook.com/KhadijahGoesToSchool

Official site {Khadija Goes To School}

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