Tuesday, May 22, 2018
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An Edmonton mother didn’t see Somali-Muslim experiences in children’s books — so she wrote one

An Edmonton mother didn't see Somali-Muslim experiences in children's books — so she wrote one

Source: CBC

Rahma Mohamed’s book, ‘Muhiima’s Quest,’ follows a Somali-Muslim child on unique journey

Rahma Mohamed first arrived in Canada from Somalia at eight years old. She learned to read at age 10 and instantly fell in love with it.

But she had a hard time picturing herself in the books she was reading.

“These characters were fascinating to me, but none of them looked like me,” Mohamed told CBC’s Radio Active. “None of them came from the same country as I did. None of them had my experiences.”

Mohamed now has two kids aged three and six, and was hoping to read stories to her kids that they would more closely relate to.

She searched for children’s books featuring Muslim characters of African descent and couldn’t find any — so she decided to write her own.

“I wished to find that diversity, and not finding it is what prompted me to actually go ahead and write the story,” she said.

Inspired by her kids

Mohamed wrote and published her first children’s book called Muhiima’s Quest, which was inspired by her six-year-old daughter.

Muhimma’s Quest is Mohamed’s first book, written under the pen name Rahma Rodaah. (Rahma Mohamed/Supplied)

“It was important for me for my daughter to start to see herself in the books that she loves,” Mohamed said.

She said Muhiima means “important” in Arabic and it follows a young girl who tries to navigate the world where other children are doing things that are different from her.

Mohamed said one example is birthdays, which some Muslims don’t celebrate.

“How do you explain that to a child, when every day they are celebrating birthdays?” Mohamed said. She’s hoping her book can do that.

Mohamed self-published the book under the pen name Rahma Rodaah after about a year’s worth of work. She had to self-finance and had no experience in publishing a book.

“I decided to just start the journey and figure it out along the way,” she said. But Mohamed is already making a second book called Little Brother For Sale, which is also inspired by her kids.

Mohamed is currently writing her second book, called ‘Little Brother for Sale.’ (Rahma Mohamed/Supplied)