Hot off the press, the brand new Hats of Faith board book has taken the children’s literature world by storm. The message and purpose are powerful: to advocate for a discussion of tolerance and acceptance of world religions starting at birth. I am very excited to share my interview with Hats of Faith author Medeia Cohan with you today.
Medeia gives us an inside look at her vision for multicultural education, as well as her favorite reading and literacy tools. We hope this interview inspires parents, educators, and caregivers to begin reading diverse books early as well as with urgency. In turn, we will continue to encourage compassionate readers who are also globally minded kids.
Your board book is truly a revolutionary concept. What made you passionate about teaching tiny readers about the many Hats of Faith that are represented around the world?
Thank you! That’s very kind of you to say. If I’m totally honest it’s not head coverings that I’m passionate about. My true passion is to do my part to help shape future generations of accepting, kind people. I think early interfaith and diversity education is the key to a better world. We as parents and really just as people, have a responsibility to do what we can to make a better world.
I wanted to buy this book to share with my son, but it didn’t exist. In the current climate of increased intolerance and violence toward faith-based groups, it felt very important and quite urgent that this book existed. So, we made it so!
Do you plan on continuing your Hats of Faith book as a series?
Yes! Thanks largely in part to the amazing support and overwhelmingly positive response, it seems like there’s a demand and a desire for this kind of mainstream, factual interfaith education. Therefore, my team and I are discussing next steps as we speak.
Besides your own book, what are some of your other favorite children’s books this year?
In our house, the books on steady repeat are: Pearl Power & The Girl with Two Dads and Even Super Heros Have Bad Days. Both of these books are well-illustrated and have positive messages that my son loves.
Give us your list of MUST HAVE children’s books for all home/ classroom libraries?
My all-time favorite children’s book is The Big Orange Splot. My mother read to me and I now read to my son. It has a great message about being different and proud. War and Peas is another great book about sharing and helping those who are less fortunate.
My current favorite though is Me and My Mammoth. This story is about a child who likes to make things, even though they never turn out the way he thinks they should. This is essentially the story of my life.
I’d recommend the Diverse Book Finder for anyone looking to populate their home or classroom libraries with quality diverse materials. It’s so important that young people both see themselves in books. Valuing diversity in book selections is critical. As a result, diverse books introduce children to different cultures and traditions they are likely to encounter in life.
Do you have any favorite read-aloud strategies you use with your son?
I do a lot of hand movements, gestures, and sounds to bring the stories we read to life. As we read, I ask a few questions to check for understanding and discuss the author’s purpose. I will also have him have point, count, and identify components by name while I read and turn the pages.
My son loves being read to, so it’s not hard to capture his attention. He has clear favorites, and he knows these books by heart. We love reciting our favorite parts together.
Beyond reading, what are other important literacy components you teach your son for future academic success?
I’m far from a tiger mum, but he’s a really curious little boy. He often asks questions as we go about our daily life, and we use these opportunities for learning constantly. We speak to him like an adult in that we engage and explain things to him as they arise. By doing this, we involve him in different decision processes. Additionally, this will help him learn critical thinking skills.
I’m not as worried about his academic success as much as him engaging with all kinds of people. I want him experiencing the world in the hope that he will become a kind and open-minded person. Furthermore, I hope to instill in him a level of responsibility to continue improving the world.
As you learn about other cultures and customs, what is your view on multiple language learning?
I’m very dyslexic and much to my regret, learning other languages has never really been an option for me. However, I know that the brain is very susceptible to learning other languages early in life. I think it’s a wonderful gift to give your child to start language learning from birth.
What is one piece of advice you would give to other aspiring authors who are parents/teachers of young children?
If you have a great story you should tell it. If writing a book is something you’re passionate about you should do it.
However, I know that it’s harder and will take longer than you think; much like children! I think you have to believe in the value of your story with all of your heart. It is also important to surround yourself with a really brilliant team to be successful. Don’t settle. It’s a crowded market out there and you need to stand out.
Are you working on any future projects that you want to share with our readers?
I’m working on maintaining a balance between my career, my family, and Hats of Faith and that’s plenty for now! But should I survive this, there will likely be a few more books in this series. Oh, and we have t-shirts coming soon! Keep a close eye on our Hats of Faith website for more details.
(photo credit Hats of Faith)
What is the best way people can connect and support you?
We would love to have your support on our social media!
We would also love to hear from you personally, so please feel free to email us at hello(at)hatsoffaith(dot)com.
Multicultural Education Resources
If you are interested in other multiracial and multicultural award-winning books for children, please check out the Multiracial Children’s Literature Guide and The Anatomy of a Diverse Bookshelf. These resources take out the guesswork when selecting high-quality and diverse books.
Join us in giving the children in your lives the most colorful bookshelves possible. This way we can simultaneously raise global citizens as we raise readers. We also invite you to join our Multiracial Children’s Literature discussion. Our group is full of talented educators, authors, and parents who share a wealth of expertise on a daily basis.
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