Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow’s Newest Picture Book “Salat in Secret”

Thompkins-Bigelow said she writes to fill the gap of stories she saw growing up as a kid since there were few Black Muslim kids at the center of stories she read during her childhood.

Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow’s Newest Picture Book “Salat in Secret”
Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow’s newest picture book “Salat in Secret”

Acclaimed children’s literature author Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow’s new book “Salat in Secret” is out now. The book tells the story of Muhammad, a seven-year-old boy who has been gifted his own prayer rug for his birthday. He is determined to do all five prayers on time, but runs into a problem when he realizes that one of the prayer times is during the school day, and he does not want to be seen praying in school because he has seen how his father is mocked for praying in public places.

Illustrated by Hatem Aly, “Salat in Secret” is an empowering story for young Muslim children who seek to observe their faith publicly but may be hesitant due to judgment from their peers. 

In an interview with ABC, Thompkins-Bigelow spoke about how the story resonated with her childhood since she also knew of children who were hesitant to proudly pray in public because of what people might say. Thompkins-Bigelow said she writes to fill the gap of stories she saw growing up as a kid since there were few Black Muslim kids at the center of stories she read during her childhood. She said she hoped the book would “make it a little easier for Muslim children to exist in the world and for people to understand and empathize with them”. 

Description from Penguin Random House:

“From the critically acclaimed author of ‘Your Name Is a Song’ and the bestselling illustrator of ‘The Proudest Blue’ comes a story about a Muslim boy who receives a salat (prayer) rug on his seventh birthday and becomes empowered about his faith.

In this beautiful story of community, family, and acceptance, a boy named Muhammad receives a special salat rug on his seventh birthday. Seven is the age when Muslim children are encouraged to pray, and Muhammad is determined to do all five daily prayers on time. But one salat occurs during the school day — and he’s worried about being seen praying at school. His father parks his truck to worship in public places, and people stare at and mock him. Will the same thing happen to Muhammad?

In the end, with help from his teacher, he finds the perfect place to pray. ‘Salat in Secret,’ by two highly acclaimed Muslim creators, is a poignant and empowering look at an important facet of Islam that many observant children cherish but might be scared to share.”

Order a copy of “Salat in Secret” here.

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