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[Interview] Alexis Y. Lumbard on what inspired her to write children stories with Islamic themes

Children's Author: Alexis York Lumbard
Children’s Author: Alexis York Lumbard

There was a book Alexis wanted to read to her children, but it did not yet exist. Inspired by her experiences of motherhood and the gap in the market, Alexis Lumbard picked up her pen (or laptop) and began to write!

She has created an interesting range of spiritual and beautiful Islamic books for children including: The Conference of the Birds (Sept. 2012), Angels (Oct. 2013), and a digital app: The Story of Muhammad, based on the life and of Prophet Muhammad.

I talk to Alexis about the principles of good storytelling, how she overcomes challenges with her projects, and how we can tackle misconceptions surounding the Prophet Muhammad.

What inspired you to become a Children’s book author?

“When we were expecting our 2nd daughter and our eldest was ready for storybooks, I couldn’t find any that were Islamic-themed and well done.  So I picked up my pen (or laptop) and began to write.  It was a messy beginning and my first stories were terrible, but a few thoughtful individuals held my hand along the way.”

What are the principles of good storytelling and what advice would you give to aspiring writers?

“Please do not write for children because you think it is easy.  It is not easy and it should not be. Children’s literature has all the same meat as good books for adults—i.e. a tempting beginning, a middle that builds and an end that satisfies. And I’d have to agree with Jane Yolen, children’s books need not rhyme but they must be lyrical.

As far as basic principles go: 1) Less is more. 2) Do not talk down to children when writing. 3) Talk up—children need books that elevate, more now then ever before.  I created a little list on www.childforallseasons.com, perhaps some of your viewers will find it helpful.”

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Mother

During pre-Islamic Arabia, the Arabs were so ashamed of having daughters, that they would bury their new born daughters alive. The above is an example of how the Prophet of Islam changed the attitudes of the people during that time & emphasized the importance of the role of women in society.

One would have thought that after centuries of progress mankind would have matured enough to realise the role that the women plays is critical for a healthy society. Yet in many places around the world, the role of the women is still seen as inferior. This has resulted in an alarming rate of female fetuses being aborted. We need to introspect our attitudes and culture, because a society that does not value their women, will always be limited in their growth.