As Salaamu Alaikum and Welcome. I would love to introduce you to author, Janette Grant and her book, Sameerah's Hijab and The First Day of School. Janette is also a blogger and writer for examiner.com.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Janette Grant and I am a revert to Islam. I converted to Islam in April of 1998 after having been a practicing born-again Christian.
What was your favorite children’s book growing up?
Tiki Tiki Tembo by Arlene Mosel. I think what I really loved most was the little song of Tiki Tiki Tembo’s full name from the book. As I got older I enjoyed reading Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume books.
Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
It was something that came naturally to me. I have always been very shy and find it easier to express myself through my writing.
What inspired you to write your book "Sameerah's Hijab and The First Day of School"?
My son was the inspiration behind Sameerah’s Hijab and the First Day of School and I had originally submitted the story to the publisher as a story about a little boy and wearing his kufi for the first day of school. When my son started school in kindergarten, we had to enroll him in a public school and he would come home and tell me how his classmates would ask him questions about his kufi and that some of his friends asked if I would make kufis for them. It was only after having discussions with the publisher that he suggested that the story may reach more readers if we changed the story to tell about a girl and her hijab on the first day of school.
Why do you feel this topic is important for any girl to read?
I feel this topic is important for the sake understanding one another and for exposing the shared values that many of us have in society. I also think that it is important for providing an accurate representation of Muslims and Islam for children and people living in the West who may not know anything about Islam and its practices.
What was the most difficult part of writing your story?
The most difficult part for me was keeping it short enough for a child to read but filled with enough information that would inform and entertain at the same time. It was most challenging to maintain the balance between sharing accurate knowledge and entertaining the reader within the page restrictions for content. There always seemed to be more that I could say or write concerning the topics addressed.
What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
I hope that readers will take away an appreciation for the beauty of Islam and an open heart concerning Muslims and Islam; and especially for hijabis. Wearing the hijab is both an act of faith and an act of courage when living in a society where wearing the hijab is often thought of as foreign and I hope that this book will help others to be more compassionate towards girls and women who wear the hijab.
What has your publishing journey for this book like?
It has been very exciting and rewarding. Seeing my story in print lends a certain element authenticity to my efforts and it has been a very gratifying endeavor.
What has been your most rewarding experience since being published?
My most rewarding experience was receiving an email message from a sister who has a copy of the book and who has said that she reads it to her two daughters often and that they love it. It choked me up to read the email because that is one of the things that I had hoped for: that little Muslims could enjoy a story that was written essentially about them and for them and their peers.
Is there anything you wish you had known about the publishing industry before you became a published author?
No, not at this moment. I have been blessed to have had a very positive experience with the publisher of my book.
How do you deal with a bad review?
I take the criticism with meekness and try not to take it personally. Every bad review is a learning experience one way or another.
What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
I work from home in the telecommunications industry and crochet in my free time. I also love to read and try to read regularly.
Are you working on a new book?
Yes, I am currently working on my first fiction book for adult readers. I hope to have it published sometime in the near future.
How can your book be used in the classroom?
My book can be used in the classroom in a social studies class to highlight diversity and to reveal information about Islam as well as showcasing how easy it is for children to get along when they understand one another.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
I would say to research the available books for your children first before committing to purchasing, only because there is so much of a wide variety of books. There are lots of resources available at local bookstores, public libraries and online to help in the selection of good and beneficial books for young minds.
Thank you so much Janette for joining us today and sharing your publishing journey with us. For more info about Janette and her book, check out the links below.
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sameerahs-Hijab/303635517753
Houston Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/islam-in-houston/janette-grant