Ramadan 2022: Chicago-area mom Shirin Shamsi writes children’s book ‘Zahra’s Blessing’ on Eid

VILLA PARK, Ill. (WLS) – A Chicago-area mother’s mission to create a children’s book with a Ramadan story is now a reality.

“Zahra’s Blessing” tells the story of a girl who discovers her blessings as her family prepares for Eid, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Author Shirin Shamsi wrote the story years ago for her children, but it was rejected by publishers.

SEE ALSO | What is Ramadan? How Muslims observe the holiest month in the Islamic calendar

“I wanted them to see books that reflected their own experiences and books where they felt seen and validated,” Shamsi said. “So I decided to write a book about Ramadan.”

She persisted, and with a few changes, the book was released on March 29.

Illustrator Manal Mirza saw herself in Shamsi’s first draft decades ago, when Shamsi actually read to Mirza’s elementary school class. And now Mirza is the artist bringing the story to life with colors, patterns and images inspired by Southeast Asian cultures.

“I think having little kids see themselves in storybooks can be a beautiful thing and it can impact kids in so many ways,” Mirza said.

Shamsi and Mirza read their new book “The Blessing of Zahra” to students at the Islamic Foundation School in Villa Park on Wednesday. Among the students listening was a 5th grade student named Zaara.

“It’s so cool that my name is on a book because I don’t really see my name often”, Zaara Syeda
Mentioned.

“If every child is portrayed in stories, they will grow up feeling empathy for everyone,” Shamsi said, “and isn’t that the path to world peace?”

The suburban women who created this book seemed to fill a void and hope others will share their stories with young readers.

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Angela C. Hale