Hena Khan

On Saturday, a friend who loves children’s literature as much as I do, invited me to an Author Event. Hena Khan, sponsored by the neighboring town’s independent bookstore (Thanks Bards Alley), was promoting her newest book. More to the Story She called it is her “love story” to the classic book, Little Women. Why? Because growing up, she loved to write. And growing up, she never saw herself, an American Muslim, in books. Yet, growing up, she read and reread Little Women. Those four sisters taught her about friendship and loyalty and family and though the book was published 150 years ago, it helped her as she grew up. And now, she used that familar story as her inspiration for writing this new book.

More to the Story is a modern-day story about an American Muslim family living in Georgia. The one daughter, Jam, loves to write and and uses this talent by writng for the school’s newspaper. As Hena booktalked this book and read-aloud from it on Saturday to an audience of many Muslim families, I left excited to have this new book to share with my students. Plus, I help run my school’s newspaper so I’m excited to read it to see how the book’s school newspaper is run.

During the Q & A, I asked Hena to share about her writing process. I always like to know more about the nuts and bolts of an author’s life. I so appreciated Hena’s honesty.
* She does have an office in her house. However, she does NOT only write in one place. She tends to move throughout her house writing.
* She said she does NOT always write daily.
* She does writes only using her laptop. She does saves all her versions as she revises.
* She does use an outline as her guide.
* She HATES the 1st draft.

After my questions, another women asked her if she avoids any issues as she write. Hena stated she tried to writes fun Muslim stories for kids. However, she won’t avoid topics. She asked this women if she had an issue in mind. The response – colorism in the South-Asian community. I naively will admit, I went home and read up on this topic. As a white mid-aged women, I really had no idea this is an issue: Discrimination based on skin color, also known as colorism or shadeism, is a form of prejudice or discrimination usually from members of the same race in which people are treated differently based on the social implications from cultural meanings attached to skin color.

I’m glad I spent the day learning from a cool Muslim-American author. I’m glad I have a new book to read to help me understand a modern Muslim family. I’m glad I keep learning each day.

3 thoughts on “Hena Khan

    • sallydonnelly11 says:

      On some topics, I am so uneducated…maybe too sheltered. I guess that’s why I read. Still so much to learn. She is so engaging and lives in Rockville, MD. We hope to bring her to our school next Fall.


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