Author and Interfaith Activist Works with Lower School
By Lower School Literacy Specialist Heidi Byrnes-Cloët
Lower School students recently spent time with author and interfaith activist Saadia Faruqi, who shared her passion for creating characters and stories that represent diverse perspectives and backgrounds. One example was the protagonist in her popular Yasmin series, a Pakistani-American Muslim girl who teaches young readers they too can be creative problem solvers.
Faruqi presented two workshops, one to SK and 1st grade and another to 2nd and 3rd grades. She discussed her personal journey from Pakistan to America and what it means to be an immigrant: “Someone really brave who moves to a new place to build a better life.” Students learned about Faruqi’s upbringing and a little about life in Pakistan and how Faruqi developed her character, Yasmin, who is based on Faruqi’s daughter and her own childhood. Students also learned that Faruqi created Yasmin so her daughter could read more books with characters who felt more familiar to her based on race, ethnicity and religion.
Students in 2nd and 3rd grades also participated in a writing workshop with Faruqi. They learned how she has to “think like Yasmin” when she writes. Faruqi also shared feedback she receives from her editors, which she uses to improve her writing—much like Parker students receive from their teachers! Students then practiced generating their own characters using a “character interview” technique to build convincing and well-rounded individuals.
Students were excited to meet a published author and asked questions that reflected a great deal of curiosity.