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