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The Best Pakistani Americans Kids Books

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Bilal Cooks Daal
Written by Aisha Saeed & illustrated by Anoosha Syed
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Six-year-old Bilal introduces his friends to his favorite dish—daal!—in this charming picture book that showcases the value of patience, teamwork, community, and sharing. Six-year-old Bilal is excited to help his dad make his favorite food of all-time: daal! The slow-cooked lentil dish from South Asia requires lots of ingredients and a whole lot of waiting. Bilal wants to introduce his friends to daal. They’ve never tried it! As the day goes on, the daal continues to simmer, and more kids join Bilal and his family, waiting to try the tasty dish. And as time passes, Bilal begins to wonder: Will his friends like it as much as he does? This debut picture book by Aisha Saeed, with charming illustrations by Anoosha Syed, uses food as a means of bringing a community together to share in each other’s family traditions.

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Leila in Saffron
Written by & illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova and Rukhsanna Guidroz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A colorful journey of self-discovery and identity, this sweet, vibrant picture book follows young Leila as she visits her grandmother’s house for their weekly family dinner, and finds parts of herself and her heritage in the family, friends, and art around her. Sometimes I’m not sure if I like being me. When Leila looks in the mirror, she doesn’t know if she likes what she sees. But when her grandmother tells her the saffron beads on her scarf suit her, she feels a tiny bit better. So, Leila spends the rest of their family dinner night on the lookout for other parts of her she does like. Follow Leila’s journey as she uses her senses of sight, smell, taste, touch to seek out the characteristics that make up her unique identity, and finds reasons to feel proud of herself, just as she is.

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Bounce Back
Written by Hena Khan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes the third book in an exciting chapter book series about a scrawny fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom. Zayd has a plan. He’s ready to take the reins as team captain of the Gold Team. But when an injury leaves him on the sidelines, his plans get derailed. Can Zayd learn what it means to be a leader if he’s not the one calling the shots?

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Yasmin the Builder
Written by Saadia Faruqi & illustrated by Hatem Aly
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

As their makerspace project the students in Yasmin’s second grade class are building a city: there are houses, a school, a church, even a castle, but Yasmin is not sure what to build–until inspiration strikes.

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Yasmin the Fashionista
Written by Saadia Faruqi & illustrated by Hatem Aly
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

While her parents are out to dinner, a bored Yasmin decides to try on some of her mother’s clothes, including her new shalwar kameez, which gets ripped–but with the help of Nana, Nani, and a glue-gun, the garment gets fixed, and Yasmin puts on an impromptu fashion show when her parents get home.

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  • Yasmin the Chef - Yasmin’s family is hosting a big party, but Yasmin is worried that the traditional food her family is cooking is too spicy–so her family challenges Yasmin to come up with a dish of her own.

  • Yasmin the Teacher - When Ms. Alex is called away from the classroom, she leaves Yasmin in charge, but the other children just ignore her and start acting silly and noisy–until Yasmin thinks up a way to motivate them to finish the math assignment, quietly.

  • Yasmin the Painter - Unsure about her artistic skills, second-grader Yasmin is not looking forward to the art competition at school–but with the support and encouragement of her family she produces a prize-winning painting.

  • Amina's Voice - A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this “compassionate, timely novel” (Booklist, starred review) from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns. Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized. Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani-American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.

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Power Forward
Written by Hena Khan & illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes the first book in an exciting new chapter book series about a fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom. Fourth grader Zayd Saleem has some serious hoop dreams. He’s not just going to be a professional basketball player. He’s going to be a star. A legend. The first Pakistani-American kid to make it to the NBA. He knows this deep in his soul. It’s his destiny. There are only a few small things in his way. For starters, Zayd’s only on the D-team. (D stands for developmental, but to Zayd it’s always felt like a bad grade or something.) Not to mention, he’s a bit on the scrawny side, even for the fourth grade team. But his best friend Adam is on the Gold Team, and it’s Zayd’s dream for the two of them to play together. His mom and dad don’t get it. They want him to practice his violin way more than his jump shot. When he gets caught blowing off his violin lessons to practice, Zayd’s parents lay down the ultimate punishment: he has to hang up his high tops and isn’t allowed to play basketball anymore. As tryouts for the Gold Team approach, Zayd has to find the courage to stand up for himself and chase his dream.

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Yasmin the Explorer
Written by Saadia Faruqi & illustrated by Hatem Aly
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-6

When Yasmin’s father explains to her about explorers and maps, Yasmin decides to make a map of her neighborhood and she brings it along on a trip to the farmers’ market with her mother–but will the map help her when they are separated?

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On Point
Written by Hena Khan & illustrated by Sally Wern Comport
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes the second book in an exciting new chapter book series about a scrawny fourth-grader with big dreams of basketball stardom. Now that Zayd has made the Gold Team, he’s hustling hard and loving every minute of the season. But when team starts to struggle, Zayd can’t help wondering if it has something to do with him. Even worse, his best friend Adam suddenly starts acting like he doesn’t care about basketball anymore, even though they are finally teammates. He stops playing basketball with Zayd at recess and starts hanging out with other kids. Then, Adam up and quits the Gold Team to play football instead. While his uncle’s wedding preparations turn life into a circus at home, Zayd is left on his own to figure things out. He has to decide how to still be friends with Adam and step up to fill the empty shoes he left on the court. Does Zayd have what it takes to be on point and lead his team back to victory?

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Yasmin the Zookeeper
Written by Saadia Faruqi & illustrated by Hatem Aly
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Yasmin’s class is going on a field trip to the zoo, and Yasmin is thrilled when she is chosen to help feed the monkeys; but when she trips and spills their food both she and the monkeys are upset–until she remembers that she has fruit in her lunch bag to share with her new “friends.”

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Place at the Table
Written by Saadia Faruqi
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12
A timely, accessible, and beautifully written story exploring themes of food, friendship, family and what it means to belong, featuring sixth graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl taking a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara's mom.
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  • Yasmin the Friend - Yasmin knows exactly what she wants to play when her friends come over. But it turns out her friends have their own ideas. Could a creative compromise make everyone happy?

  • Yasmin the Soccer Star - Everyone in Yasmin’s gym class is excited to play soccer, except for Yasmin. She’s seen the pros play, and it looks scary! When Yasmin is chosen as goalie, will she step up or back out? Courage, Yasmin!

  • Meet Yasmin! - Meet Yasmin! Yasmin is a spirited second-grader who’s always on the lookout for those “aha” moments to help her solve life’s little problems. Taking inspiration from her surroundings and her big imagination, she boldly faces any situation, assuming her imagination doesn’t get too big, of course! A creative thinker and curious explorer, Yasmin and her multi-generational Pakistani American family will delight and inspire readers.

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