Philly children’s book author fills a need with ‘Mommy’s Khimar’

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Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow has written the picture book

Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow has written the picture book "Mommy's Khimar." (Emma Lee/WHYY)

During this time of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, a new children’s book from a Philadelphia author focuses on a mother-daughter bond told by a young girl who delights in wearing a khimar.

“Both ‘khimar’ and ‘hijab’ are names of the Islamic head scarf,” Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, author of “Mommy’s Khimar,” explained during an interview with NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller. “Both words have a basis in the Koran. ‘Hijab’ is used more by South Asian and Middle Eastern Muslims. African-American Muslims also use it, but ‘khimar’ is also used a lot here.”

The program director for the South Philadelphia site of Mighty Writers, which offers writing programs for children, Thompkins-Bigelow decided to try her own hand at writing a book to fill a need she saw in children’s literature.

“I became aware of the lack of books for African-American and African-American Muslim kids,” she said. “I didn’t see any representations for my own kids of children who were like them.”

But she said the book, published last month with vivid illustrations by Ebony Glenn, also appeals to a general audience. Thompkins-Bigelow hopes families can use it to learn about the customs of others.

“For people who are not of the dominant culture, we spend a lot of time trying to understand things about the dominant culture,” she said. “That’s considered a norm. People who are from the dominant culture could benefit from doing the same, and learn about other cultures.”

To hear the full conversation listen to the audio above.

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