ABDUL’S STORY (+ Giveaway!)

I’m sure my fellow teachers know the feeling. You see a book announcement or a cover reveal and you immediately want to plan that title for tomorrow’s read aloud. But you have to wait. And wait. And wait four more days to be exact, because that’s when Abdul’s Story by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Tiffany Rose is officially out in the world. 

Abdul, an observant boy sporting red glasses, blue suspenders, and a flattop haircut, loves to tell stories, especially about the colorful characters in his Philadelphia neighborhood. But when it’s time to write the stories down, trouble ensues. My students can relate. So can I. And probably so can you. For Abdul, the letters end up crooked or backwards and he’s not always sure which ones to use because, “How could Abdul know there was an if it never made a sound?” Abdul’s paper fills with eraser smudges as he begins to doubt his stories are the kind that are in books anyway. After all, he never sees his life reflected in books.

But one day Mr. Muhammad, a visiting author, begins spending time in Abdul’s class. His frustrations continue to mount, but when Mr. Muhammad reveals his own messy notebook, Abdul sees that being a writer is not about being perfect, it’s about having something to say. Abdul’s Story is an affirming tale that will inspire children to believe, I am a writer.

The story of Abdul and Mr. Muhammad is based on the author’s own experiences working with children. Jamilah says, “I was inspired to write this book by a six-year-old child whom I helped to write a story during a writing workshop. He didn’t think he could write a story because of his struggles with handwriting and spelling, and I strived to let him know that his stories had value and were needed in spite of those struggles.” The encouragement Jamilah gave that young child will soon be available to many more in the form of this book.

The relatable text of Abdul’s Story strikes a gentle tone that normalizes mistakes as part of the writing process. The vivid illustrations burst with color and emotion. Nods to Muslim life in Abdul’s community are subtly present, and have the ability to provide reassuring references to children who are familiar, and spark curiosity in children who are not.

If you want this delightful and uplifting book on your shelves as much as I do, please comment below by April 8th for a chance to win Abdul’s Story. For an extra entry, you can share this post on Twitter and tag @jtbigelow and @sara_h_ackerman. U.S. addresses only please. Thank you, Jamilah, for this giveaway!

50 Comments:

  1. Becky Scharnhorst

    Love the message that you don’t have to be perfect to be a writer, you just have to have to have something to say. Looking forward to reading this one!

  2. Wow, I’ve seen sooo many kiddos struggle with this same thing! Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Sara!

  3. It’s a wonderful book!

  4. This book looks so perfect for doing writing workshops with kids. Thanks for spotlighting this, Sara!

  5. How cool…thanks for sharing!

  6. Writing can be difficult for those who find reading difficult first. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Congrats, Jamilah and Tiffany! I just adore that cover, and I’m looking forward to reading this book. (I tweeted about the giveaway, too.)

  8. “Being a writer is not about being perfect, it’s about having something to say” — aww, love this empowering message!

  9. “The relatable text of Abdul’s Story strikes a gentle tone that normalizes mistakes as part of the writing process.” Absolutely! An important message for children learning to read and write.

  10. I had many students who struggled with reading and writing. I would have loved to have read this aloud in my classroom.

  11. Love the premise of this book and look forward to reading it! Congrats!

  12. Another beautiful book by a talented, prolific author.

  13. Susan Lee Roberts

    I can’t wait to read this. Thanks for getting your experience into book form.

  14. An important message. I look forward to reading it!

  15. Congrats to all! This looks like a wonderful and needed picturebook.

  16. Danielle Hammelef

    Congratulations to the creators of this important picture book that will help so many readers. I love the cover and can’t wait to read this.

  17. This sounds like a great book for showing that dyslexia doesn’t mean you can’t love words. I look forward to reading it.

  18. Love, love, love this book!!!

  19. What a wonderful book concept. Love this so much! Can’t wait to read it.

  20. This sounds like a wonderful book and we would love a copy for our school library!

  21. Such a beautiful book! It works on so many levels: dyslexia, illiteracy, and just general struggles with writing and words!

  22. This sounds like a wonderful story! And I love the colorful illustrations. It is such an important message – one I share at school visits when I show some of my own 1st grade work with backwards S and crossed out letters. It’s okay to make mistakes! That’s how we learn, even as we tell our stories!
    btw, I LOVE this sentence: How could Abdul know there was an e if it never made a sound?

  23. This book looks fantastic MashaAllah

  24. Congrats, Jamilah and thanks for sharing, Sara. It looks wonderful!

  25. This sounds like it will be affirming to so many kiddos!

  26. I love the way this is put together! Congratulations, Jamilah! And thank you, Sara!

  27. This sounds like a great book for my first graders!

  28. Da’Nette Watford

    Such a powerful message to be shared!

  29. I can’t wait to get this book in my hands and share it with first grade writers!

  30. Wow. Any book with a message is always a winner especially if it empowers children in whatever struggles they are confronting. Congrats Jamilah. We need books like these. More power to you!

  31. Any book with a message is always a winner especially if it empowers children in whatever struggles they are confronting. Congrats Jamilah. We need books like these. More power to you!

  32. This sounds wonderful!

  33. This book sounds amazing! I can’t wait to read this with my students.

  34. Jennifer Merrifield

    What a beautiful story that so many of our writers will be able to relate to. I am excited to read it and share it with my writers.

  35. I need this book!!!

  36. This looks amazing! My own kids love to tell stories but both struggle with handwriting and spelling. Can’t wait to read it!

  37. Love the story. Want to read and share this book.

  38. This would be a lovely addition to the K-5 library I run. So many students need to hear this message!

  39. What an inspiring story for both adults and children!

  40. What a relatable and important story. I am adding this book to my class wish list. Jamilah is such a talented writer and I want to read anything she writes.

  41. Natalie Lynn Tanner

    THANK YOU for sharing this story to INSPIRE not only children, but ALL of us to understand “being a writer is not about being perfect, it’s about having something to say.” I SO NEEDED to hear those words today–and EVERY DAY! THANK YOU!!!

  42. I can’t wait to read this story to my students in the library! So many say they can’t write stories, so I know they’ll understand what Abdul is going through!

  43. What a great message! I’d love to share this book with the students at my school.

  44. This looks phenomenal! I am such a fan of your other books! I’d love to share this with my students at school.

  45. Look forward to sharing this one!

  46. Pamela Courtney

    Ohhhh boy is this story ever right for my homeschooling kinfolk. Yes, homeschooling my nephews and getting them to write…WHEW! CanNOT wait to share this with them

  47. Absolutely LOVE this premise and I have many students that need this one badly. Congratulations on a great book!!!

  48. Can’t seem to post a comment. 😢 Can’t wait to get this book for my students! ❤️

  49. sweeet

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