Simon & Schuster Launching an Imprint for Muslim Children’s Books

By ProjectManhattan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Simon & Schuster is responding to the rising Muslim population in the U.S. with Salaam Reads, an imprint focused on Muslim children’s books.

Simon & Schuster, the publishing house, is going to start a new imprint, named Salaam Reads. This will concentrate on young adult and children's books. The books are going to have Muslim kids and families sharing the Islamic faith. In its statement, the company said that it believes that Salaam Reads is the pioneer imprint at any big publisher focused on stories and characters featuring Muslims.

This is important, as according to a recent Pew Research Center study, Muslims constitute approximately one percent of the American population and it is only predicted to grow. For Salaam Reads, the target audience is even bigger. Salaam is Arabic for peace. The publications will be in bookstores from 2017.

Simon & Schuster announced the first four of its many acquisitions to come for Salaam Reads on February 24. The list of acquisitions included a total of three picture books: Musa, Moises, Mo and Kevin, written by Azhar Sheraze and Huda Abdul-Razzak, Salam Alaikum, inspired by the Harris sung song and Yo Soy Muslim written by Mark Gonzales. The last touches the topic of multi-cultural heritage. The publisher has said that the first book from the Salaam Reads stable will be The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand. This book narrates the story of an American girl of Bangladeshi origin who lives in Queens. This book narrates her exploits when she goes on a pursuit to save her board who was under attack from one supernatural board game. Simon & Schuster has announced that Salaam Reads will bring to the market a minimum of nine books every year.

Zareen Jaffrey is the executive editor of Salaam Reads. According to her, when she was young, she used to read novels set in a European or non-Muslim setting. At that age, she did not feel confident enough to lose herself in the characters of the book. Even after 30 years, Muslim characters remained few and far between in children's literature. Ms. Jaffrey is going to change that.

The creation of Salaam Reads will further move the discussion concerning diversity in publishing geared towards children. The imprint arrives at a time when there is a polarizing and fractious political debate concerning immigration and also religious and racial profiling. American Muslims felt that they were unfairly targeted. Ms. Jaffrey hopes that this effort will offer people a more honest and rounded portrayal of the lives led by everyday Muslims.  

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