Apr 27, 2022 - News

Philadelphia author's new children's book empowers kids to write

An illustration of a boy sitting at his desk on the cover of a new children's book, "Abdul's Story."

Photo courtesy of Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Writing is messy. Mistakes happen. But your story is worth telling.

  • That's the lesson Philadelphia author and educator Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow shares in her newest children's book "Abdul's Story," published last month.

State of play: "Abdul's Story" is about a child who's a natural oral storyteller, but struggles with the mechanics of writing.

  • The main character, Abdul, faces learning difficulties. He also feels discouraged because he "doesn't see the kinds of stories that he has about his neighborhood, his Philadelphia community, in the classroom," Thompkins-Bigelow tells Axios.
  • That all changes when a writer visits Abdul's class and shows him that not only is writing a messy process, but that "his stories have value."

Between the lines: Thompkins-Bigelow tells Axios the inspiration for the story came from an experience she had running the South Philadelphia location of Mighty Writers, a nonprofit that offers writing programs to kids across the city.

Of note: The book, which centers on Muslim characters, was released days before Ramadan. Thompkins-Bigelow hopes it's another book people might want to gift during the holy month.

Where to find it: Thompkins-Bigelow recommends picking up a copy at Uncle Bobbie's in Germantown, or other local bookstores.

What's ahead: Thompkins-Bigelow has three other children's books in the works.

  • "Hold Them Close," which Thompkins-Bigelow describes as a love letter to Black children, initially started as a poem she wrote to help kids make sense of racial injustice. It comes out Oct. 4.
  • "Salat in Secret" and "Grounded" will be released next year.

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