The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K.Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly
In The Kindest Red, Faizah gets ready for picture day at school by wearing a hand-me-down red dress that she had been longing to wear. She and her friend Sophie twirl in their dresses. At school, her teacher asks the class to draw and write about a world they would want. Faizah draws a kind world of friends always helping each other. At recess she and her friend Sophie use their superpowers to be kind and helpful. After class, Faizah and her sister, who wears a blue hijab from the first book by the authors, The Proudest Blue, are to get their sibling photo taken. All the siblings are dressed alike, except for Faizah and her sister Asiya. Faizah is depressed until her friends use their kindness superpower to think of a brilliant idea.
It’s the doldrums of a Midwest winter, and some of my students are on edge with each other. So I was looking for a BIPOC friendship book to use for Valentine’s week. The bright red dress from the cover caught my attention along with the word Kindest.
My class understood the author wants us to be nice and kind. They liked the kindness superpower. A couple of my girls liked seeing the hijab because they wear one on special occasions. We talked about—what if the clothing was a different color than red? A girl suggested the kindest pink to match her sweater. A boy said, “a caring rainbow.” Others said, “the nicest teal” and “respectful violet.” I told them when they have time, they could illustrate their ideas.
What I loved about the book is when Faizah was down, her friends gathered around her and asked what was wrong and how they could help. I pointed out that in our kindergarten class, some of them are very good at being caring.
A wonderful story that shows the spirit of kindness and caring!