The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family

Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family Book Poster Image
Vivid art, powerful story about sisters overcoming bigotry.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

For readers not familiar with the practice of wearing a headscarf, the story and authors' notes explain when and why some Muslim girls wear hijab. All readers will see concrete strategies to deal with bullying and the emotions it can trigger.

Positive Messages

Be proud of who you are, and stay strong, even if others don't understand you. Don't let other people steal your joy. Don't carry around the hurtful words of others; they belong to those who said them.

Positive Role Models

Faizah and Asiya are Black Muslims, while background characters represent a wide variety of skin colors. Faizah is fiercely loyal to her older sister, Asiya, who she admires a great deal. Asiya ignores the teasing of classmates, showing Faizah how to be strong and be proud when others are mean and hurtful. Asiya's three friends, who are neither Black nor Muslim, express anger at those who tease Asiya, role modeling for readers what it can look like to show support for a friend.

Violence & Scariness

Bullying behavior including laughing, pointing, and teasing. A classmate threatens to pull Asiyah's hijab off and refers to it as a "tablecloth."

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family is by Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and award-winning author S.K. Ali, and illustrated by Hatem Aly. It's about the strength and pride needed to overcome the hurtful deeds of others. Fiercely loyal Faizah narrates her sister Asiya's first day of hijab and their first day of school, including the questions, ridicule, and threats of peers that come when they see Asiya in her headscarf. Faizah draws on her faith as well as the empowering words of their mother as she watches Asiya navigate her would-be tormentors. Bright and vibrant illustrations show a diverse suburban town. A mild threat of violence occurs when a boy yells that he is going to "tear that tablecloth" off Asiya's head. 

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What's the story?

With her light-up shoes and new backpack, THE PROUDEST BLUE's narrator, Faiza, is excited for the first day of school. It's also her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab -- the first day she'll wear her headscarf to school. She thinks Asiya looks like a beautiful princess in her hijab, but when her classmate asks what's on her sister's head, Faizah's pride falters a little. As the day progresses, Faizah watches as other kids point and laugh at Asiya; one even threatens to tear the hijab off her sister's head, calling it a "tablecloth." Each time, Faizah reflects on the true significance of hijab, recalls the advice of her mother, and watches admiringly as her sister responds to bigotry with grace. Authors' notes at the end provide informative context for the story.

Is it any good?

This compelling picture book alternates the story of two sisters' momentous day with the lyrical reflections of the young narrator. The structure of The Proudest Blue allows readers to see what the girls see, peek into the pride in faith and family that sustains the sisters, and hear the wise counsel of a mother who knows what her Muslim daughters may experience once they don headscarves. Any reader who's ever been bullied will connect to these sisters' experiences, and Faizah's use of art, reflection, and recalling advice are helpful strategies kids can use to move through being hurt themselves.

Hatem Aly's ink-wash, pencil and watercolor illustrations are vibrant and expansive, perfect for little eyes to linger on. Of note is the choice to represent the kids who bully Asiya as faceless shadows. This captures how little they matter and highlights the sister's pride and self-respect as they refuse to let the ignorance of others ruin their day. This inspiring book is sure to capture the hearts of readers young and old alike.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the teasing and bullying featured in The Proudest Blue. How does Asiya respond? What does Faizah do to make sense of what she sees her sister going through? What can you do when you are being bullied or see someone else being bullied?

  • How is the girls' mother helpful in this story? What's some good advice you've gotten before?

  • How do the pictures in this book show or add to the story the words tell? Which illustrations do you remember most? Why?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love bullying tales and books with Muslim characters

Themes & Topics

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