Zareen Jaffery has questioned for a long time why Muslim characters are not represented in mainstream children’s literature. And it’s a good thing that Ms. Jaffery, who is a Pakistani-American Muslim, is asking this question as she is in a position to make a difference. As executive editor of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ms. Jaffery is heading a new children’s imprint called Salaam Reads whose mandate is to publish children’s books featuring Muslim characters and stories.
The books will highlight the experience of being Muslim through their characters and plots. “We have a chance to provide people with a more nuanced and, in my estimation, a more honest portrayal of the lives of everyday Muslims,” says Ms. Jaffery.
The imprint has already acquired four books which will be published next year including “Salam Alaikum,” a picture book based on a song by the British teen pop singer Harris J. ; “Musa, Moises, Mo and Kevin,” which is about four kindergarten friends who learn about one another’s holiday traditions; “The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” by Karuna Riazi, about a 12-year-old Bangladeshi-American; and “Yo Soy Muslim,” a picture book by the poet Mark Gonzales.