Family movie night? There's an app for that
Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Vocabulary from Islamic culture: "hijab," "imam," "insha'Allah," and so on. Pakistani food and dress: naan, samosas, chai, shalwar kameez. Korean food. Swearing-in ceremony for American citizenship.
Kids from different backgrounds can be friends. The U.S. can welcome people from other cultures and benefits from diversity. When you do something wrong, you can rectify it with honesty and apologies. When you're afraid of something, you can overcome your fear. People can reject hate and support those who are victims of hate crimes.
Positive Role Models
Amina is thoughtful and respectful of her family and culture. She feels jealousy in a friendship but is honest, admitting her mistakes and apologizing. She learns to appreciate the good qualities of others -- a former mean girl, a geeky boy, her strict uncle -- despite her initial misgivings. She weathers cultural slights with grace and learns to stand up to hate.
Violence & Scariness
The community building and mosque of the Islamic Center where Amina's family prays and studies is destroyed by arson and vandalism in a hate crime. Graffiti left on the walls says "Go Home, Terrorists, Towelheads" and "bad words so terrible that I squeeze my eyes shut."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sole instance of swearing: Amina's friend says, "What the hell were you thinking?"
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Amina's Voice by Hena Khan is a gentle and sensitively written novel about a girl from a Pakistani American family. Muslim readers will see themselves and their families reflected, while readers from all backgrounds will easily relate to Amina, whose experiences and emotions ring true and who in many ways is a typical American middle school kid. The book's an excellent introduction to Pakistani American and Muslim culture, weaving in specifics while drawing parallels to show that this family, their culture, and their faith have many commonalities with others. A disturbing hate crime targets the Islamic Center and mosque, but the surrounding community rises to help and support their Muslim neighbors. The takeaway message is that "Muslims have far more friends than enemies in this country."
Is It Any Good?
This beautifully written, pitch-perfect novel expertly balances the narrator's typical American middle school life in Milwaukee with the specifics of her Muslim, Pakistani American culture. The parents in Amina's Voice are naturalized citizens, and the family is American in many ways. Amina watches The Voice, her brother plays basketball and video games, and her mom cross-country skis during snowstorms. Amina's narrative is colloquial, sprinkled with current kid-isms such as "random" and "super chatty," so she seems eminently relatable, and author Hena Khan writes with warmth and emotional honesty.
Khan weaves in details about Amina's culture and faith in just the right measure, familiarizing readers with the names of the clothes she wears (shalwar kameez), the food she eats (samosas), the names of her family and friends (Mustafa, Rabiya), and details about the family's life at the vibrant Islamic Center. They study "surahs" (chapters) from the Quran but also plan a fundraiser with a bounce house and a dunk tank (for dunk-the-imam). Khan focuses instead on how the hate crime affects the Islamic community and the response of their neighbors, which is overwhelmingly supportive. Kids looking to expand their understanding of Muslims and the experience of immigrant families could not do better than this sensitively written book.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Kids' Books About the Immigrant Experience
Books with Characters of Color
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate