Program Committee Member: M.O. Yuksel
M.O. Yuksel’s debut picture book, In My Mosque (HarperCollins, 2021), is a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection, and was praised as “marvelous” and “a must” in School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly starred reviews. Her next book, One Wish: Fatima Al-Fihri & the World’s Oldest University (HarperCollins, 2022), is about a 9th-century Muslim woman, Fatima Al-Fihri, who pioneered the oldest university in the world in Fez, Morocco.
M.O. Yuksel was born in Turkey and immigrated to the U.S. when she was seven years old. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Fordham University and a master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University, and over 20 years of work experience as an educator in various capacities. She is currently working on her first middle-grade novel and several new picture books.
From M.O. Yuksel:
“Studying at the Highlights Foundation has been a life-changing experience for me. It helped me find my place in the writing community by providing opportunities to network with children’s literature professionals and make life-long friends. I have attended several workshops at Highlights and each workshop was an intimate invitation to work one-on-one with publishing professionals such as editors, agents, and iconic authors and illustrators. It has helped me hone my writing craft, gain a deeper understanding of the publishing industry, and set me on my path to publication. I’m honored to serve on this committee and excited to pay it forward by helping aspiring creatives in their writing journey.”
How will Muslim children see themselves in your stories?
“Seeing the diversity of people and cultures reflected in books is important to nurture the social-emotional development, and mental health of all children, especially those who have been underrepresented. I hope Muslim children of all races, ethnicities, and cultures can see themselves reflected in my books, to feel seen, heard, and affirmed, to know that they are valued and celebrated.”