Teenage Muslim Girls Work to Increase Diversity in Libraries

Libraries are critical places of learning and discovery for children all over the world. But when young sisters, Zena Nasiri, 17, and Mena Nasiri, 15 couldn’t find any books about Muslim women, they decided to find a solution.

Zena Nasiri and Mena Nasiri started Girls of the Crescent, a nonprofit organization that increases the number of books in libraries and schools with Muslim characters.

After the launch of her non-profit, the girls decided to write their own book on prominent Muslim women from past to present. 

Their organization has received national coverage and they are making a huge impact on young girls around the Muslim world. According to an article written by msn.com, Zena and Mena were asked to complete a project on a prominent figure for school.

They wanted to write a piece on a prominent Muslim woman but couldn’t identify the resources from their own library that represented prominent Muslims or women. They realized this lack of representation needed to be addressed and requested donations to purchase books with Muslim characters.

The response from all over the world was tremendous, which allowed them to donate books to libraries all over the world. 

“We have had such a positive response from the Muslim community, both locally and abroad. A local mosque invited us to speak about our project on several occasions and has donated to our cause,” Zena and Mena told AboutIslam.net.

“We are also honored to receive the KBK Lifetime Humanitarian Achievement Award at the 2nd annual KBK Relief Foundation gala. On a global scale, some Muslim authors of the books on our list have been kind enough to support us and send us copies of their books from around the world,” they added.

Representation Matters

Muslim youths deserve to have themselves portrayed as protagonists, as the hero and represented in books and media.

To see Muslim teenagers as fully realized characters, as human beings, means including them in all genres of stories.

With the increased interest in growing genres of literature, young Muslim children crave seeing themselves represented in books and the big movie screens. It does something for the child to see themselves as heroes, creative characters, and human beings that are experiencing the challenges of life. 

“We’ve been lucky enough to see the positive impact our work has on Muslim youth first hand. One of our most memorable donations was when we donated to an elementary school at a local mosque,” Mena and Zena shared with AboutIslam.net. 

“When we handed the books to these Muslim students we could see the excitement on their faces as they flipped through the pages and got to see their religion and culture depicted through relatable characters. We hope that all of our donations have this impact on Muslim youth looking for representation.”

Reading can provide a great escape and a beautiful insight into the larger world. Everyone deserves the chance to fall into a great book and get lost in the story entirely.

Muslim youth and Muslim women deserve to see their lives and their voices validated not only in literature, but in the world.

About Sabria Mills
Sabria Mills is the Co-founder and Executive Director of MACE - Muslims Advocates of Children with Exceptionalities. She is an Educational Leader and Social Advocate, who partners with educators, community leaders, and activists to advocate for inclusive spaces for people of all abilities. After spending nearly a decade working in education and addressing the needs of non-profit organizations, Sabria knows what truly drives social reform, equality, and education—and it’s not mastering the social advocacy flavor of the week. It’s how well you connect with the heart-beating people you’re trying to help and communicate your understanding back to them.