Author Highlight: Shifa Saltagi Safadi

Shifa Saltagi Safadi is a woman who wears many hats! She’s a middle-school language arts teacher, book reviewer, and writer. The Syrian-American mother of four has had three books published with Ruqaya’s Bookshelf:

  • Spell it Like Samar—This was Shifa’s first book and the most personal because it was inspired by her own life. Like Samar, Shifa immigrated to the USA as a little girl, and she worried about fitting in and whether her English was good enough. She says that in this story, “I tried to have the reader be inspired that with persistence and hard work, you can be better. And that’s the story behind Spell it Like Samar. She works hard to enter the spelling bee and prove that she can do what she puts her mind to.”
  • Heaven is at Mama’s Feet—Shifa wrote this story to explore both the unmatched love of mothers for their children and the struggles of siblings competing for that love. In the story, Ibrahim is jealous of his new brother, who has snatched away all his mother’s attention. When Ibrahim hears that mothers have heaven at their feet, he tries to copy her in order to “be special again.” However, Shifa says, he soon figures out that “no matter what you do, you can’t get into that love and emotion with the mother that she gives unconditionally.”
  • Pepperoni, Pitches, and Other Problems—This story was also inspired by Shifa’s childhood. “We moved around a lot when I was little,” she says, “and every time we moved to a new school, like Amina does to her new school, I would miss my old friends, and then I’d have to make new ones, and then I’d feel like I didn’t fit in again.” Shifa remembers what it was like being picked last for the team, trying to fit in with the popular girls, and making mistakes and assumptions about new friends. She describes Amina as a “character who fumbles her way to figuring of what true friendship is.”

Despite the variety in her stories, Shifa says the common thread is “heart, humour, and a whole lot of love.” She writes stories about kids who make mistakes and learn from them, and stories that give Muslim kids “a huge warm hug of love and identity and confidence in their Islam.” She wants Muslim kids to be proud of their Islam, their language, their heritage, their skin, “and their every bit of being.”

Shifa hopes to continue both writing and reviewing books. “I hope people continue to enjoy Muslim books and support Muslim authors because our kids just need so much more.”

In both her roles as book reviewer and writer, this publishing company holds a special place in her heart: “I just love Ruqaya’s Bookshelf because I can always count on [its] books for quality.”

Check out our collection here!

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