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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

“South Asian girls can be whatever they want to be”

Award winning authors, Salma Zaman and Thom Craigen create colouring book to inspire South Asian girls, help broaden their career options and chase their dreams

Huddersfield’s Salma Zaman has published many books such as, ‘Help! I can’t dance without my Bhangra Pants’, ‘Sally and her super snot and Bollywood Princess’ which is about a little girl wanting to be a Bollywood princess. Salma has also created a range of picture books for children from all backgrounds. One book focuses on a book about a little boy who has autism.

Her success in writing books doesn’t end there as Salma wrote ‘Greedy Gertie’. A book about a cow who loves waffles but also uses a wheelchair. The book was not only written in hardcopy format, but a braille copy was available for visually impaired children and an audiobook too to allow every child to have a chance at reading despite the challenges they face.

Salma Zamans daughter Maleehah Zaman who is her biggest inspiration after she passed away.

Salma mentions that she had many inspirational people in her life – one being her mother who gives her the strength to plough through and grandma who she looks up to. However, one big motivator in her life is her late beautiful daughter, Maleehah Zaman. Salma states, “Maleehah has been my strength and pushed me on when things have been hard. It all began with her”.

Salma’s creative journey has only flourished with the launch of a colouring book to add to her many credits. The colouring book ‘I can do anything’ which has been co-created with Thom Craigen, an award-winning children’s author.

Salma said, “I understood that there was less representation of South Asians and particularly in books and characters that weren’t inclusive for South Asian children.

“There is some representation today but still a lot of work needs to be done”.

Pictured Thom Craigen who worked with Salma in creating their new book

Thom Craigen added: “I think for me and Salma we hinted at the idea of writing a book about empowering South Asian girls to see beyond what they might deem capable of.

“A lot of South Asian kids might not have a vision to study things beyond what they see so I thought that was something we wanted to change”.

Salma explains that living as a South Asian mother: “You can shop in Asda and local book stores and you can pick up these books about Cinderella, Snow White – with the golden hair and fair skin, but you can’t pick up a book with a girl that is wearing a hijab, wearing a bindi or wearing Asian clothes with South Asian names. Representation is a key for moving forward”.

Salma showing the different career options within the colouring book.

Another important aspect of the book both Salma and Thom were keen on sharing was the different career options available to all girls but in particular South Asian girls. Each character within the book has a different profession which kids can colour and read the written descriptions of that particular job role.

Salma also mentioned she wanted to break the stereo-mindset of communities in having certain typical jobs such as a doctor and dentist.

“What we wanted to do was, hopefully inspire South Asian girls to be whatever they want to be. We didn’t want to restrict them. We wanted to educate them through this colouring book and it also lets the parents have those conversations with their children that they can be anything they want to be”.

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