My Name Is Bilal by Asma Mobin-Uddin, illustrated by Barbara Kiwak (Boyds Mills, 2005). Bilal keeps his distance when bullies harass his sister, Ayesha, pulling at her head scarf. Then, hiding his Muslim identity, he tells the class his name is "Bill." Mr. Ali, a teacher, witnesses Bilal's struggle and gives him a book about another Bilal, which inspires him to defend his sister and embrace his identity. Ages 5-up. Read an online Q&A with the author.
In recent years, I have received many teacher and librarian requests for suggested books with Muslim characters and related themes. Unfortunately, they are still few and far between.
With its realistic art and strong thematic development, My Name Is Bilal is recommended as a springboard for discussions about Muslim Americans and religious prejudice.
Cynsational News & Links
The Lee & Low Books New Voices Award: competition is open to picture book manuscripts no longer than 1,500 words by "writers of color" who are previously unpublished in the picture book. The deadline is October 31. See the publisher site for more information.