WOW Recommends: Mommy’s Khimar

Mommy's KhimarThe sparkling picture book, Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow with illustrations by Ebony Glenn, is a delightful, warm story about an African-American, Muslim family. The girl who tells the story celebrates her love for her mother and the khimar that her mother wears. On the first page she tells us, “A khimar is a flowing scarf that my mommy wears. Before she walks out the door each day, she wraps one around her head.” The girl loves to play dress-up or pretend games wearing her mother’s yellow khimar. She becomes a queen with a golden train, a shooting star, a mama bird or a super hero in a cape, “dashing from room to room at the speed of light. Daddy snatches me up and I fly. Mommy can’t stop laughing when his bristly beard tickles my cheek with a kiss.” Sometimes Mom-Mom (her grandmother) visits after her Sunday service when the girl wears the khimar, Mom-Mom “sings out ‘Sweet Jesus’ and calls me Sunshine. Mom-Mom doesn’t wear a khimar. She doesn’t go to the mosque like Mommy and Daddy do. We are a family and we love each other just the same.”

The author writes, “In my stories, I wanted to show my underrepresented people to the fullest extent and that affected my decision to include a non-Muslim family member in Mommy’s Khimar as well as using the word ‘khimar’ in the title. Like many Black American Muslims, I grew up with Christian relatives. And like many Black American Muslims, I grew up calling the headscarf a ‘khimar’ not a ‘hijab.’ Both words are used in Islamic scripture; however, for whatever reason, early Black American Muslim communities used the word ‘khimar’ while others don’t commonly do so. I wanted the book to feel unmistakably Black and Muslim for the children… And I wanted to take that identity and put it in the mainstream.”

The illustrations for this joyful story glow with warm colors and expressive faces. Most spreads show the girl actively cavorting across the pages. The tone of the illustrations extend the words, enhancing the story. This is the first book from the author and illustrator. I am eager to watch their careers unfold. They have a simple but eloquent way of expressing the joy and the love of a family. This is a story for our times that shows a dear family surrounded by the community in their mosque. Read this one aloud to 3- to 7-year-olds. Reading this story will enlarge children’s vistas and care for others who might be not the same. Best of all, this story shows African-American children who are Muslim that there are stories about them. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Washington University

ISBN: 97815344000597
Publisher: Salaam Reads
PubDate: April 2018

Each month a committee of Worlds of Words advisors recommends a book published within the last year. Our hope is to spark conversations on our website and on social media about the book that expand global understandings and perceptions. Please join us by leaving a comment. You can also share your thoughts with us by using the hashtag #WOWRecommends on social media.

2 thoughts on “WOW Recommends: Mommy’s Khimar

  1. Todd Cole says:

    This looks like an amazing book. Yes, I would read to 3 -7 year olds, but I think I’d be learning along the journey, as well.

    • That’s a wonderful point. So many books for children have a bonus for adults reading them aloud to a child. There is the enjoyment of the illustrations and the cadence of the language plus sometimes learning about something new. Mommy’s Khimar is an excellent example of this kind of bonus. I had never heard the term, Khimar, and now know about it.
      Marilyn Carpenter

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