Program Committee Member: Neda Hashmi
Neda Hashmi is an aspiring middle-grade and picture book writer who recently moved to Dallas. She was born in Karachi, Pakistan, raised in Saudi Arabia, and moved to the United States when she was 7 years old. Neda enjoys spending time with her two children, drinking chai, and daydreaming about faraway lands. She is currently working on a middle-grade novel.
“I went to my son’s school for lunch when he was in elementary school, and his friends were curious about my hijab. One of them spoke up and said that he saw someone wearing a headscarf in one of his books and that his mom told him that Muslims wear it so he knew that I was a Muslim. It was surprising to me because at that point I didn’t know children’s books even had Muslim characters and normally my attire isn’t recognized in a positive way. I think that’s why many of us write, because we didn’t have these kinds of books when we went to the library or the Scholastic book fair. ”
How will Muslim children see themselves in your stories?
“As a child who explored the world through reading and books, I would have given anything to read about characters that were authentically Muslim. At that time, the rare Muslim characters in books were written by people outside of the community and the stories were not relatable to me at all. I love using books as windows into other people’s lives/experiences, and I think children can benefit from having a window into the stories of Muslims, but Muslim children can also benefit from having their experiences reflected back at them in an authentic and familiar way. ”