Simon & Schuster’s Salaam Reads Imprint Paves a Path for Muslim Children’s Stories and Creators

Salaam Reads focuses on positive portrayals of Muslim characters and communities to combat the stereotypes that have historically been associated with Muslims in the U.S.

A stack of books sits next to the Salaam Reads logo
Salaam Reads, launched in 2016, is the first imprint at a major publisher that focuses on Muslim stories

Salaam Reads is an imprint at Simon and Schuster, one of the “Big Five” publishing houses, which publishes Muslim stories for children and teens. 

Salaam Reads was launched in 2016, spearheaded by Zareen Jaffery, who was then an executive editor at Simon and Schuster. (Jaffrey is now an executive editor at Kokila Books.) Jaffrey brought up the idea to focus on more diverse stories, specifically Muslim ones, to publisher Justin Chanda. The company decided to focus on Muslim stories — not necessarily theology, but the experience of being Muslim. The imprint aims to publish books for Muslim kids who would not have otherwise found characters that share their identity and experiences.

Simon and Schuster stated in their imprint announcement in 2016 that Salaam Reads is the first imprint at a major publisher focusing on Muslim stories. Salaam Reads’ website notes that the imprint “celebrates joy, vibrancy, and variety in stories of Muslim life” and publishes books that “explore a diverse panoply of experiences lived by characters who are united under a shared umbrella of Muslim identity.” They publish a wide range of genres, from fantasy and science fiction to nonfiction and romance. 

Salaam Reads, named for the Arabic word meaning “peace” (and the greeting that many Muslims use), was intentionally launched in an era where anti-Muslim rhetoric was on the rise, especially in former President Trump’s presidential campaign. Salaam Reads focuses on positive portrayals of Muslim characters and communities to combat the stereotypes that have historically been associated with Muslims in the U.S.

In 2022, Salaam Reads celebrated five years in the Simon and Schuster family. The books published in those five years, including authors like S.K. Ali (“Love From A to Z,” “Love From Mecca to Medina”), Hanna Alkaf (“Queen of the Tiles”), Karuna Riazi (“The Gauntlet,” “The Battle”) and Hena Khan (“Amina’s Voice,” “Amina’s Song,” “More to The Story”) have sold 1 million copies.

Now seven years in, Salaam Reads has made space for more inclusive stories for Muslim children as well as opportunities for Muslim authors to tell authentic stories. The current editor of Salaam Reads, Deeba Zargarpur, said to Forbes in an interview, “We are a beautifully diverse community, and that needs to be reflected in the published literature by and about us. While it’s been encouraging to see an increase in Muslim representation across all publishers, there is always more work to be done, and as an editor, I’m always striving for our list to more fully reflect the incredible variety of what being Muslim can mean.”

Hena Khan, author for children and young adults, talks about the importance of a publishing imprint that focuses on books with Muslim themes

Read more from Fann: 

Five Children’s Books by Muslim Authors Publishing in October

Out Now: “Love From Mecca to Medina” Follows Adam and Zayneb’s Newest Journey

Coming Soon: Four Best-Selling Muslim Authors Bring “Grounded” to Life

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