The proudest blue : a story of hijab and family by Ibtihaj Muhammud and S. K. Ali

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Illus. by Hatem Aly. Anderson Press, 2020. ISBN: 9781783449712. 40pp.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. When Asiya wears her blue hijab to school for the first time, her little sister, Faizah is proud and excited: proud that her sister has reached this milestone in her life, eager for her own turn when she reaches grade seven. Mum and Asiya have been to the shop to buy a new headscarf, Mum wanting the pink one but Asiya standing firm with her choice of blue, the colour of the ocean, the colour of the sky.
Going to school Asiya and Faizah meet curious stares and field some questions from their peers, answering that wearing the hijab is important, it means being strong. But some laugh and point, and again mother's words remind the girls that the wearing of the hijab may perplex some at the start, but remaining firm and strong, they will come to understand.
Several boys call her scarf a tablecloth and again mother said that these are only words which can be discarded, not carried around. These words belong only to those who utter them.
At the end of the day Faizah meets her sister again at the school gate, standing proudly with her blue hijab, waiting patiently for her little sister. Faizah cannot wait to get home to show her the picture she has drawn of the two together, with matching blue headscarves.
An absorbing look at one girl's day at school, an ordinary everyday sort of day, except that Asiya is wearing her hijab for the first time. Curiosity meets the girls as they arrive at school and their questions are answered, but a few are more vocal and bullying. The answers allow the girls to turn their backs on these comments and disown the people who say them. They stand firm, gaining strength from within their family, proudly turning their backs on ignorance.
A charming story of standing firm, of not allowing comments to spoil the day, this story will be shared in classrooms, initiating discussions about the obvious wearing of the hijab and what it means but also the wider issue of difference and acceptance, of tolerance and awareness. And a book such as this will engage and educate while encouraging understanding. Themes: Islam, Family, Hijab, Clothing, Difference, Courage, Faith.
Fran Knight