When novelist and #WeNeedDiverseBooks co-founder Aisha Saeed walked into her local Barnes & Noble ten days ago, she was surprised & thrilled to see a Ramadan book display for children. She wanted to buy all four books displayed but after chatting with the bookseller, she realized that those were the only books in stock.
If she bought those books, not only would they be sold out of all of their Ramadan-themed children's books, but the Ramadan display would disappear too. Aisha's blog post explaining the situation and asking that Muslims "be the change we want to see" was the spark we needed to ignite a book-buying revolution.
Using the hashtag #RamadanReads, we asked people to share their children's, young adult, and adult book recommendations for our Ramadan/Eid gift list.
Thursday July 3rd, marks the second phase of our campaign: We're asking communities to visit or call their local bookstores and libraries to order books from the gift list we compiled, letting them know that their request is part of the National #RamadanReads Campaign. We want this to become an annual event and for Ramadan to become known as the month in which Muslims flock to bookstores to support their storytellers.
Muslims were once renowned as a community that loved, wrote and bought books, built libraries, and engaged in vigorous coffeehouse debates over the ideas that lie at the core of our humanity. At 8 million strong in the US, and with an estimated $170 billion in annual consumer purchasing power, we have the power to shape our own narratives. The key? Simple: The more Muslim storytellers we support with our dollars, the more diverse Muslim stories we will see.
The publishing industry is demand-driven. Buying available books sends a resounding message to publishers and bookstores that our representation matters and that we want to hear more Muslim voices and stories.
Please join us! Call or visit your bookstores and libraries with your book orders tomorrow morning, and then share the books you chose and what your experience was like with the #RamadanReads hashtag. We'd love to hear about what it means to you to read books written by and about Muslims. What were your childhood experiences like with or without books reflecting you? What kind of stories do you hope your children will have access to? Why is supporting Muslim authors and books important to you? Let's talk about it all on Twitter at 11 am PDT/2 pm EDT this Thursday!
Let's "be the change" - together.