Interview with Everyone is Smart author Noor Abdelrahman. Here our featured author Noor shares a little about the book, her motivation for writing, and some advice to aspiring writers.
We were recently featured in Al-Arabiya online for HoneyTree Books. We are so excited to share the article with you.
Here's a link to the article:
Fun and fairy tales: U.S. Muslim children’s books group expands
Books get delivered every four months, and the yearly subscription rate is $115 per child. (Photo: HoneyTree/Facebook)
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By Nabila PathanSpecial to Al Arabiya NewsWednesday, 21 October 2015
A children’s literature and arts quarterly package for predominantly Muslim parents in Chicago is now generating demand across North America.
This month, the team behind HoneyTree Books - a Muslim family-engagement subscription service - looks set to expand beyond Chicago as preparations begin for their second installment of Muslim children's books.
“We grew out of Chicago because that’s where we had a strong network of parents that we could tell about HoneyTree,” co-founder Randa Kuziez told Al Arabiya News. “We’ve grown nationally, and also engaged a global audience on social media.”
HoneyTree Books launched in May this year after Kuziez and friend Shahd al-Asaly struggled to find high-quality resources that cater to helping children nurture their Muslim identities.
The duo have already built up a portfolio of authors from around the world. Fawzia Gilani, a UK-based author of Islamic fairy tales, will be featured in future packages.
“We sit down with our wonderful group of experts to decide which books get selected, based on many factors such as the story itself, quality, illustrations, age group, and the value or lesson,” said Kuziez.
“We like to include books with beautiful illustrations and a lesson of some sort that relates to our values as Muslims. We also send reflection questions so parents can hone on these lessons in the stories.”
The plan is to select a total of 16 books for the four age categories (up to three years, four to five, six to seven, and eight to 10), and other items to be distributed through the subscription quarterly package. Books get delivered every four months, and the yearly subscription rate is $115 per child.
Kuziez recounts her childhood growing up in a small town and not being exposed to many books with diverse Muslim characters: “I felt quite different, and would be so excited if someone, anyone at school had some knowledge about my faith.”
She added: “Presenting diversity and showcasing different characters in books and other forms of media should be a natural occurrence in our diverse world, and we’re hoping HoneyTree will do just that.
“It’s so important to empower children by providing them with stories of characters that represent them, and discussing some element of our faith, such as the importance of charity, but through a storybook that’s relatable and fun to read over and over.”
The team recently undertook a crowd-funding campaign with Launchgood to help fund the first package.
“Crowd-funding is a great way to raise funds, but even more so to get your project out there and known. Our current funding plans are through the subscription price,” said Kuziez.
In between subscription packages, parents can visit the website to find resources on reading, featured author sections and podcasts. A section for book reviews, especially for parents with kids older than 10, is being built.
Hijabtrendz recently wrote a review about a HoneyTree Books package she received for her lovely daughters.
Read it here:
Asalamu Alaikum friends!
We are SO excited to present to you our featured author of Princess Siyana’s Pen, Zainab Merchant. Zainab holds a double degree in Political Science and Homeland Security from Virginia Commonwealth University and has worked in the Non-Profit Sector tackling humanitarian issues globally and domestically. Now she spends her days as homesechooling-horseriding-political activist-stay at home and spends her nights as a graduate student in writing and literature at Harvard University. Zainab lives in sunny Orlando, Florida with her husband and two spirited little boys, with a third on the way Insha’Allah.
We were honored to host Zainab in Chicago for a book reading. After she met with all the kids, we spent some time interviewing her. Watch the interview here and look for her book in one of the coming packages for children ages 8-10.
Watch the interview here:
Here are some highlights from the interview:
- Zainab’s inspiration is our Prophet (S) and she tries to model her life after him.
- Zainab made a point to remind everyone that wants to write a book to just do it!
- She reminded us how important it is to read to children, and how important is for us to change the way our children feel represented.
- She is working on her 2nd book at the moment! We wish you the best Zainab!
We grew up in a pretty small town in Southern Illinois. We were the only Muslim family there at the time, and probably the only kids whose parents came from Syria. At home, some of my favorite memories were praying with my parents-the smell of ‘itr on my mom’s prayer clothes, the same sweet smell emanating from the prayer rugs during Sujood, and my father teaching us the additional Athkar after prayer. Each line we said together glorifying God (SubhanAllah, Alhamdullilah, La Ilaha Illah Allah, Allahu Akbar) was met by a hug or a game encouraging us to say them loud and proud. School, on the other hand, felt completely different. I wasn’t sure how to share with the other students why I couldn’t sing religious Christmas songs with them during the holidays, why certain foods were off-limits during the school BBQ, and especially why my mother chose to wear the hijab. In fact, I was shy about being different than the other kids. I often think of the story my sister told me because it resonated so much with my own experience. One day, a classmates asked her, “Why does your mom wear that thing on her head?” and my sister responded with, “oh, because she’s allergic to the sun.” Such an answer left no more questions, and so she felt off the hook. Inside, she wished she could have answered confidently and accurately. Why were we so excited about our identity at home, and why did this not spill over into our lives at school?
We later moved out of that town, I eventually wore the hijab myself, am currently very proud to discuss Islam and Muslims, and spent many years volunteering with Muslim organizations and working with Muslim youth. However, these stories never left me, and I want to make sure other children are proud of who they are and can share it with others, especially with a different set of challenges Muslim children are facing today in regards to their identity. This past year, I teamed up with my friend Shahd Alasaly to start HoneyTree Books, a Muslim family engagement subscription service in North America. We are excited to bring you this one-of-a-kind Muslim children's literature and arts quarterly package for families raising children ages 1-9. Our focus is to enable Muslim children to explore Muslim values, meet Muslim characters, and get excited about our tradition through carefully selected books and crafts, be a part of a community doing the same thing, and encourage new literature to be added to the existing Muslim children’s stories.
Empower your children by providing them with stories of characters that represent them. Studies show that stories help children understand how society perceives their culture as well as the cultures of their classmates, teachers, caregivers, and others, thereby influencing their social and identity development. A child’s self-esteem is largely influenced by the way the child and overall society views the cultural group to which the child belongs. Books are ways children understand the world around them. Presenting diversity and showcasing different characters in books and other forms of media should be a natural occurrence in our diverse world, and we are hoping HoneyTree will do just that. HoneyTree books are carefully selected to represent the diversity of Muslims, and give young readers an opportunity to meet other Muslim characters.
How HoneyTree Works
Each subscription package includes: a new Islamic book and a craft. Our goal is to get families reading together, discussing Muslim values together, and working on crafts together. Throughout these stories and activities families will get a chance to discuss Muslim values, culture, and identity. Click here to subscribe. We currently are shipping to the United States and Canada!
Help families receive the resources they need to raise children that are proud to be Muslim.
Contribute to a family culture that is centered around reading and quality time.
Spread books with Muslim characters to various public libraries.
Encourage Muslim authors to write more children's stories with Muslim characters and values.
Build HoneyTree communities in various cities around the United States.
Help HoneyTree Grow
Join our HoneyTree Community today. Let's make a positive difference in our children's lives!
Co-Founder, HoneyTree Books
Yesterday, I spent the day listening to various children's books and learning about the importance of reading as a family, especially the content we read. Shahd spent the day making Eid crafts with children and shared with me that it was so powerful to witness what it means for kids to be with family and community, especially while learning about our holidays! This reaffirmed our commitment to HoneyTree, and we are as excited as ever to be sharing this with you!