Author Visit with Next Wave Muslim Initiative writers, Sasa and Fatima

Posted & filed under Blog, Book Discussions, Youth & Teen.

We are SO excited and honored to welcome Next Wave Muslim Initiative writers and contributors of I Am the Night Sky & Other Reflections by Muslim American Youth anthology, Salihah “Sasa” Aakil & Fatima Rafie, to our virtual library on Tuesday, February 2nd at 6pm CST!

Sasa and Fatima will present and discuss their important works. Attendees will gain insights from these incredible young creators about their creative process to make the anthology, offering learning opportunities for young people who are interested in expressing themselves. Attendees will ALSO be entered into a raffle to win a free copy of I Am the Night Sky. You can also purchase copies from Shout Mouse Press.

Are you curious about how young people (just like you!) wrote and published a book?

Are you passionate about the power of stories to help young people “show their true selves, to build connection, and to create more inclusive and welcoming communities for all”? 

Are you interested in telling your own story? 

Then, this is THE program for you! Please register here to join our live Zoom with your email. You don’t have to read the book beforehand to enjoy our authors’ presentation; we hope it will inspire you to check it out or get your own copy. All are welcome to join us!

UPDATE: You can NOW watch the recording of our program on our YouTube Channel below.

Curious to know more about their book?

I Am the Night Sky & Other Reflections by Muslim American Youth is an essential addition to your home, classroom, and library collections! It received a Starred review in Kirkus and was named a Best Book of 2019. It is highly recommended from the Rich in Color blog. It was included on the 2020 Rise: A Feminist Book Project List for Ages 0-18. It was also on the In the Margins Book Awards Recommended Non-fiction list.

We have created a special Grab & Go Kit to accompany our upcoming virtual author visit that you can pick up from our Great Green Box! We have collected excellent resources to help celebrate and enjoy this visit! 


We’ve provided you with a writer’s notebook to help you express yourself. Use it to respond to any of the Shout In Place Prompts, which was Shout Mouse Press’s initiative this past spring “to collect stories from young people during the pandemic and help young people process and capture their unique experience of this historic time.” We have included a couple examples in the kit. You can see all the prompts here, which also includes young authors’ writing, art, and reflections. You can also submit your own response or share them with us. You can also use the I Am the Night Sky Writing Prompts developed by Kathy Crutcher, Shout Mouse Story Coach to inspire you.


Get inspired to write by watching the powerful compilation video of Shout Mouse Press authors’ responses to the “Who Am I?” #ShoutInPlace prompt!

Try the Shout in Place prompt from Week 18: The #WhoAmIChallenge. Being as creative as possible, you are challenged to describe who you are. Using the #WhoAmIChallenge Template as your script, answer the question Who Am I? 5 times. Make sure to add details that show us how unique you are.


Fatima Rafie created an incredible series of collages for this anthology. Using the collage materials provided, as well as your own craft supplies, magazines, or upcycled books, create a collage that explores the theme of identity. You can even use the I Am the Night Sky Writing Prompts to help inspire your art. We have also included some pictures of Fatima Rafie’s artwork to serve as mentor texts to help you get started. Feel free to share what you create with us!


Read and reflect on Salihah “Sasa” Aakil’s piece, “I am the Night Sky,” which became the title of the anthology. As Sasa writes in the introduction:

“In the end, the title we chose came from a piece in this collection, a line that speaks to the power we all felt while writing. The power to declare who we are. To reframe and reclaim. To tell our own stories, when all you’d heard was theirs.

We know who we are. We are intelligent, athletic and energetic, funny and strange, young and alive, writers and artists. We are boundless. We do not fit in anyone’s box. We are the night sky, and we wrote these stories, reflections, and reminders so that you can know us for us. Not for what they declared us to be…

This collection, like us, contains multitudes… We wrote our truths here, all in the hopes that you will remember us for who we are. We are. And we are here.”

The entire anthology is an incredible work of art! You definitely will want to check it out from the library and get your own copy, too!

We have included some amazing articles to learn more! 

“Book Launch: I Am the Night Sky” by Salihah Aakil (7/26/19)

“All the Ways I Learned to Become the Night Sky as a Muslim Teen” by Salihah Aakil (5/4/20)

“This D.C. press helps diverse young writers express themselves ‘from a place of power’” by Avery J.C. Kleinman (10/17/20)

Meet the Bright Muslim Writers and Artists Giving Life to the American Muslim Experience by Nadamousa 

You can check out Salihah Aakil’s official bio.

You can check out Fatima Rafie’s official bio.

Learn more about the Next Wave Muslim Initiative.

Learn more about Shout Mouse Press.

You can learn more about Shout Mouse Press in the videos below:

An Evening with Francisco X. Stork

Posted & filed under Blog.

We were honored to virtually host beloved author Francisco X. Stork in a collaboration between Lincolnwood Public Library & Skokie Public Library on Thursday, September 24. Jarrett Dapier, a teen librarian at Skokie Public Library, hosted a thoughtful heart-to-heart conversation that showcased his longtime appreciation and in-depth knowledge of Stork’s work and its impact on young readers. I am so grateful for the opportunity to hear Francisco share his journey as a young adult writer and the craft of creativity. We were joined by people around the country, which makes our author visit even more special, knowing we’re connecting our communities far and wide. We also partnered with our local independent bookstore, Booked, to sell copies of Francisco’s books. You can order them here.

One of the things I like about Young Adult Literature is that it’s okay to give hope – Francisco X. Stork

We are grateful that Francisco has given us permission to record and share his author visit.


We shared a variety of resources during our program, as well as collected in preparation for our visit. We hope you will find them useful as you read and share Francisco X. Stork’s work.

Francisco’s Journal

Writing Without Anxiety (Francisco’s Journal)

Francisco’s Website

Writing About Migrant Justice and Asylum for a YA Audience by Francisco X. Stork (Diverse Books Blog)

Speak on It with Francisco X. Stork (YouMediaChicago)

Beyond Borders: Power of Story Presents Speaker Series: Featuring: Aida Salazar (Author, Land of the Cranes), Francisco X. Stork (Author, Illegal), and Kelly Yang (Author, Three Keys) with guest speakers Dr. Carla España & Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen (Scholastic)

Beyond Borders: Immigrant Experiences in Kidlit Further Reading

Sims Bishop, R. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives, 1(3), ix–xi.

We hope you will join us next for An Evening with Kelly Yang & Jessie Ann Foley on October 15 at 7pm CST. You can register here.