Book ban protest inspires new book by local author
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A local children’s author is making the most of her experience after a Pennsylvania school district banned her debut book. Now, the ordeal, and the students who protested the ban of her book, are the inspiration for her newest publication.
Growing up, author Aya Khalil rarely saw main characters who looked like her.
“Arabs, in picture books and in books in general, are very, very underrepresented,” said Khalil.
When Khalil had kids of her own, she set out to change the underrepresentation with her her book, ‘The Arabic Quilt.’
“It’s about an immigrant girl named Kenzie and she’s a little bit embarrassed about her language and her culture,” said Khalil. “Her teacher helps her to feel welcome.”
The book won all sorts of awards but, in 2021, it ended up on a list of banned materials at the Central Yor District in Pennsylvania.
“I was just kind of shocked, and I didn’t know what to do,” said Khalil.
Students protested the ban for weeks and eventually got the ban reversed. The students and their protest became the inspiration for Khalil’s latest title.
“It’s called the Great Banned Books Bake Sale,” said Khalil. “The main character, she wants to pick out a book with Arabic words in it, and she can’t find any diverse books.”
The events in the book are much like what happened in real life.
“The classmates and the teacher, they kind of get together and they plan a protest and a bake sale to raise money to buy more of the banned books,” said Khalil.
It’s a story Khalil says she hopes teaches kids an important lesson.
“I just want kids to know that their voices matter,” said Khalil.
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