Under My Hijab

Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
Under My Hijab Book Poster Image
Beautiful art, positive messages in headscarf story.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Readers will learn about a common practice among many Muslim women: wearing hijab.

Positive Messages

Take pride in who you are, your family, and your culture and/or faith. Culture does not mean "all the same." There are many ways to express your cultural and religious identity. With lots of different role models of how to be, your future is unlimited.

Positive Role Models

All characters are unique and admirable in their own ways: creative, smart, determined, etc. The girl narrator sees a bright future for herself given all the inspiring women in her life. A range of professions, ages, skin colors, body shape, and hair colors are represented.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Under My Hijab,  a picture book by Hena Khan (Amina's Voice and More to the Storyand illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel (Muslim Girls Rise), is about a girl's admiration for the women in her life. It shows each woman in and out of her uniquely styled hijab, or headscarf. Positive messages include having pride in family, culture, and faith and finding inspiration to succeed from the role models in your life. The girl's family and friends are creative, intelligent, and successful, as well as multi-racial. The grandmother and father appear black, the mother, aunt, and sister have various shades of brown skin, and the troop leader has pale skin and blond hair. The variety of ages, body shapes, occupations, and interests, means that young readers of any background will be able to find similarities with several of the female role models represented.

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What's the story?

In UNDER MY HIJAB, an unnamed girl tells about various women in her life that wear hijab, the colored headscarves many Muslim women choose to wear. The women are seen first in public scenarios in hijab and then in more private spaces without hijab. A funky artist aunt piles her hijab high on her head and secures it with a handmade jewel, but at her colorful apartment, the narrator admires her aunt's pink and purple streaked hair like "a fine work of art she can comb." There's also her baker grandmother, doctor mother, a karate champion cousin, a fashionable sister, and a scary-story-telling troop leader. The girl chooses to practice wearing a hijab, too, at the end of the story, inspired by all the amazing women in her life. An end note explains more about the practice of wearing hijab.

Is it any good?

This lushly illustrated and rhythmically told tale informs about and reflects the richness of experience among Muslim women. Though Under My Hijab is about the headscarf, it is also about the full humanity of those who choose to wear it. In artfully revealing the personalities of each woman, in public and private, the wearing of hijab is demystified, and we see women with a full range of experiences, occupations, and expressions of self. Kids will love especially the quirky artist aunt with color-dyed hair and the wooden-block-breaking cousin who also dances wildly in the living room.

There's much common ground here between story and reader. The simple rhyming text can feel a bit forced, at times, but overall is quite enjoyable. The colorful and lifelike illustrations are as straightforward as the text and ably communicate the messages of diversity and strength that make this book a winner for any family or school bookshelf.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the girl's family members in Under My Hijab. How are the women in her family similar and different from one another? How are you the same and different from the people in this book?

  • Why do some women wear hijab? (Read the end page or ask an adult if you're not sure.) How do you express your culture or religious faith?

  • Who in your life do you look up to? What character strengths do they show that you find admirable?

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