Program Committee Member and Mentor: M.O. Yuksel
M.O. Yuksel is the award-winning author of IN MY MOSQUE (HarperCollins, 2021), a lyrical picture book that celebrates the joys and traditions found in mosques around the world. IN MY MOSQUE has won several awards, including American Library Association Notable Book, a School Library Journal Best Book, and a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard selection, Cooperative Children’s Book Center 2022 Best Choice, Notable Books for a Global Society, Anna Dewdney Honor Book, 2022 English Association Nonfiction Picture Book Award, Texas Library Association Topaz Nonfiction Gem Award, and Virginia Readers’ Choice Award.
She is also the author of ONE WISH: Fatima al-Fihri and the World’s Oldest University, (HarperCollins, 2022). ONE WISH has received several awards and honors, including a National Council of Teachers of English Orbis Pictus Recommended Book, an American Library Association Rise Honoree, a Children’s Book Council 2023 Notable Social Studies Trade Book, Nerdy Book Club Award for Best Nonfiction Picture Book, and School Library Journal Best Nonfiction Book.
Yuksel’s forthcoming books include RAMADAN KAREEM (HarperCollins, 2024), SAMI’S SPECIAL GIFT: An Eid Al-Adha Story (Charlesbridge, 2024), and THE PRINCE OF STARS: The Story of Ulugh Beg (HarperCollins, 2024). Yuksel loves writing about diverse cultures and little-known historical figures. When not writing, she’s usually on the soccer field cheering for her kids, or traveling to exotic places, and immersing herself in the local culture. Visit her online at www.moyuksel.com.
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.”