Anila Ali is the co-author of a children’s book called “Mommy, Am I?” that promotes tolerance through the story of a young Muslim American girl named Aisha studying at an public school. Ali presented the book to President Obama at a Ramadan iftar at the White House.
The Story behind the Story: Though residing in an integrated and diverse city in Southern California, Ali’s daughter experienced incidents of name-calling – and Ali saw students in her classroom singled out by classmates for being Muslim. Anila shared these experiences with her longtime teaching colleague, Karen Gottlieb. The immediate response from Gottleib: “We do so much work as teachers with the concepts of prejudice and tolerance through the study of the experience of Anne Frank, it’s time we start a dialogue for children about being a Muslim in today’s multicultural America.”
The Book’s Message: Ali and Gottleib drew on their experiences in the classroom to craft a thoughtful story that could engage elementary school students. Yet while written primarily for children, “Mommy, Am I?” challenges readers of all ages to examine their thoughts and actions. The book encourages readers to “follow in Aisha’s footsteps and discover how one incident changed the lives of so many. You may even see yourself in this young girl’s simple tale.”