GUEST BLOG: Reflections from a Somali-American teacher

By: Qorsho Hassan I was raised by a single mother who valued education and the deen (Islam), and so my childhood revolved around books, the arts and constant exposure to the vibrancy of the somali dhaqan (culture). In the beginning of 2004, my mother sat me down to discuss how I’d be sharing my room…

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BOOK REVIEW #2: Going to Mecca

Book Review #2: Going to Mecca Author: Na’ima B. Robert Illustrator: Valentina Cavallini Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books     At the Somali Literacy Project, one of our goals is to find children’s books which are culturally responsive to the literary needs of Somali children. With that said, we were delighted to find Going to…

Culturally-Responsive Approaches for Working with Somali Children

By: Sirad Shirdon 1. Becoming culturally responsive educators Somali parents are attempting to educate their children with a backdrop of discrimination targeted towards Muslims, English language learners, Black students and immigrants and refugees (Bigelow, 2010). As Vygotsky stressed it is important that we connect children’s social worlds to the classroom, as this will be a…

“Can I Take the Hijab Off?”: Developing Safe Spaces for Somali Children in Mainstream Classrooms

  Sirad Shirdon In September, my two nieces began school at a local Montessori school, a far cry from their previous school: a charter school in Columbus with questionable educational quality. The charter school she attended, like many in North Columbus, has a large Somali student population.  In recent years, Somali parents in the US…

A Teacher Asks: Are There Books on Eid?

Sirad Shirdon A few weeks ago, on the eve of the Muslim holiday Eid ul Adha, a kindergarten teacher inquired into the availability of related reading material. “Are there books about Eid?” she asked. Ms. M, the teacher, had prepared a book on Islam, to share with the students. “Of course, there are!” I exclaimed. Without…