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Two Teens Promote Muslim Representation in Libraries

As avid readers, Mena and Zena Nasiri grew up in their local libraries, but found that they were not represented in the books they read. So, they decided to change that. At first they held a book drive, to increase the number of books with female Muslim representation to donate to their school media center and local libraries in Michigan. They continued to gather and donate books to schools and libraries across the state. After wild support and media coverage ranging from NBC’s Today Show, to Elle Magazine to Michigan Radio NPR the sisters wanted to take it further.

Together, they created a list of books and authors that portray Muslim female figures in their books. It turned into the nonprofit, Girls of the Crescent.

“Our goal is to make sure that children like us will be able to read books with characters like themselves and to increase diversity in literature,”
— Mena and Zena Nasiri on the Girls of the Crescent goal

While growing up representation in the media you consume in critical for building self confidence and assurance. According to Nicole Martins of Indiana University, “There’s this body of research and a term known as ‘symbolic annihilation,’ which is the idea that if you don’t see people like you in the media you consume, you must somehow be unimportant,”. The sisters, without knowing this fancy research term, were able to recognize the importance of Muslim representation for girls growing up like them.

The document now has 14 pages and gives age ranges for each book. From age 2 to age 100 there is a book for everyone on this list. By doing this not only does the project support representation, but also advocates for the importance of reading at all ages.

Check out the Girls of the Crescent here.

Find the list of books here.

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