Make books not war

When I wrote that picture books play an important role in starting conversations and can serve as an agent for change in an article, I didn’t imagine that my simple rhyming book about colors would lead to a twitter war a few months later. But when author Kate Messner tweeted a recommendation of Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns as a way to introduce “the real” Islam to young readers, particularly in light of what they might be hearing on the news, it had unexpected consequences.

Kate was attacked by an anonymous poster who criticized her for sharing Golden Domes and for being positive about Islam. When I first heard about the exchange, I felt a twinge of fear and dread over the negativity toward Islam that is becoming all too familiar. However, I was quickly encouraged and reassured by Kate’s decision to engage in a public debate and take a stand against prejudice. I’m enormously grateful for her commitment to “responding to hate with poetry and education” and for the positive reactions it has fostered (read SLJ's article about it).

I’m also deeply indebted to all the people who have been so supportive of me in my effort to share my culture and traditions through children’s books. There are many champions of Golden Domes in particular, from my editor and the team at Chronicle Books who backed it since its inception, to the gracious members of the ALA Notables Committee and others who have honored it, to all of the wonderful teachers and librarians who are using it to expand the worlds of their students.

Because of all of you I believe even more strongly than ever that picture books can add to the culture of inclusiveness and diversity that the vast majority of my fellow Americans treasure. And I’m inspired by your recognition of the need to add more voices to the conversation to continue to write more. So thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all that you do.