A children’s literature and arts quarterly package for predominantly Muslim parents in Chicago is now generating demand across North America.
This month, the team behind HoneyTree Books - a Muslim family-engagement subscription service - looks set to expand beyond Chicago as preparations begin for their second installment of Muslim children's books.
“We grew out of Chicago because that’s where we had a strong network of parents that we could tell about HoneyTree,” co-founder Randa Kuziez told Al Arabiya News. “We’ve grown nationally, and also engaged a global audience on social media.”
HoneyTree Books launched in May this year after Kuziez and friend Shahd al-Asaly struggled to find high-quality resources that cater to helping children nurture their Muslim identities.
The duo have already built up a portfolio of authors from around the world. Fawzia Gilani, a UK-based author of Islamic fairy tales, will be featured in future packages.
“We sit down with our wonderful group of experts to decide which books get selected, based on many factors such as the story itself, quality, illustrations, age group, and the value or lesson,” said Kuziez.
“We like to include books with beautiful illustrations and a lesson of some sort that relates to our values as Muslims. We also send reflection questions so parents can hone on these lessons in the stories.”
The plan is to select a total of 16 books for the four age categories (up to three years, four to five, six to seven, and eight to 10), and other items to be distributed through the subscription quarterly package. Books get delivered every four months, and the yearly subscription rate is $115 per child.
Kuziez recounts her childhood growing up in a small town and not being exposed to many books with diverse Muslim characters: “I felt quite different, and would be so excited if someone, anyone at school had some knowledge about my faith.”
She added: “Presenting diversity and showcasing different characters in books and other forms of media should be a natural occurrence in our diverse world, and we’re hoping HoneyTree will do just that.
“It’s so important to empower children by providing them with stories of characters that represent them, and discussing some element of our faith, such as the importance of charity, but through a storybook that’s relatable and fun to read over and over.”
The team recently undertook a crowd-funding campaign with Launchgood to help fund the first package.
“Crowd-funding is a great way to raise funds, but even more so to get your project out there and known. Our current funding plans are through the subscription price,” said Kuziez.
In between subscription packages, parents can visit the website to find resources on reading, featured author sections and podcasts. A section for book reviews, especially for parents with kids older than 10, is being built.