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VILLA PARK, Ill. (WLS) — A Chicago-area mother’s mission to create a children’s book with a Ramadan storyline is now reality.

“Zahra’s Blessing” tells the story of a girl who discovers her blessings as her family prepares for Eid, the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Author Shirin Shamsi wrote the story years ago for her kids, but it was rejected by publishers.

“I wanted them to see books that mirrored their own experiences and books where they felt seen and validated,” Shamsi said. “So I
just decided I’m going to write a book about Ramadan.”

She persisted, and with some changes, the book was released March 29.

Illustrator Manal Mirza saw herself in Shamsi’s first draft decades ago, when Shamsi actually read to Mirza’s elementary school class. And now Mirza is the artist to bring the story to life with colors, patterns and images inspired by Southeast Asian cultures.

“Having little children see themselves in story books I think can be a beautiful thing and it can impacts kids in so many ways,” Mirza said.

Shamsi and Mirza read their new book “Zahra’s Blessing” to the students at the Islamic Foundation School in Villa Park on Wednesday. Among the students listening was a 5th grade student named Zaara.

“That’s so cool that my name is on a book because I don’t really see my name that often,” Zaara Syeda said.

“If every child is represented in stories, they will grow up feeling empathy for all,” Shamsi said, “and isn’t that the way to world peace?”

The suburban women who created this book seemed to have filled a void and hope others share their stories to young readers.


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