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Mommy, am I a ....? Paperback – March 5, 2010
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The book is a great jumping off point for discussions and for writing prompts. Many students will add their experiences of prejudice either as participants or as observers to the many forms of stereotyping, prejudice and discriminating behavior that occur often on school playgrounds, at lunch areas, during passing periods, after school dismissal in the halls and while taking that very long walk home. These are crucial times in a student's life, and the hateful and bullying behavior that goes on are experiences that teachers, parents and administrators are rarely aware of.
The strength of Mommy, Am I a ... is the opportunity it avails students, teachers, parents and administrators to recognize this harmful behavior that is occurring in their schools. It should then compel them to discuss strategies to combat these prejudices and devise ways to empower students who are victims and who feel helpless, angry and scared when they are confronted with intolerance in any form. The lessons one will take away from this book is that by confronting these issues and behaviors, reconciliation is possible and can be achieved with concerned parents and educators dedicated to making all schools a safe and secure environment for learning and socialization for all students.
Mommy, am I a...? is a relevant, factual story based on personal experience. It reflects the tenor of the culture in which we live and strives to promote cultural understanding and tolerance.
Anila Ali resides in an integrated and culturally diverse city in southern California, where most of the residents are professionals. Both she and her daughter have been subjected to incidents of name-calling. She believes that if this could take place and affect Muslim students in California, imagine what must be going on in rural America, in places like Dearborn, Michigan, with huge Muslim immigrant populations.
After the September 11th attacks, Anila shared these experiences with her Jewish colleague, Karen Gottlieb, who is also her mentor. For years, the two have been teaching together in a southern California school district. Though two totally different people, one Muslim, the other a Jew, neither ever felt uneasy. In fact, they have held one another's hand in countless times of need. That was the motivation for the book - to show how people of different backgrounds can come together in harmony and understanding and in the spirit of humanity.
Anila thought about other Muslims who were being targeted and how they must be feeling. In addition, students in her class were being targeted for being Arab Muslim and that was just not acceptable. When she shared these incidents with Karen, the immediate response was "if we can be so different yet so similar, then we can teach others to be more accepting. We do so much work as teachers with the concepts of prejudice and tolerance through the study of the experience of Anne Frank, it's time we start a dialogue for children about being a Muslim in today's multicultural America." The illustrator of the book is also a fellow teacher and was more than willing to contribute her artistic talents because she saw the need for a book dealing with this simmering issue. Thus Marian Seiders joined the project.
Though a children's book, Mommy, am I a ...? was written to challenge us all to examine our thoughts and actions. "Follow in Aisha's footsteps and discover how one incident changed the lives of so many. You may even see yourself in this young girl's simple tale..."
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Besides being a good addition to any child's library at home, it would be an excellent selection for public libraries or for elementary schools who are developing units on tolerance.