Father upset after child finds Muslim book at school fair
“It’s an indoctrination of Muslim culture,” he said.
The book, “Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: a Muslim Book of Colors” by Hena Khan, came from his daughter’s school book fair this week. She attends Dowell Elementary School in west Cobb.
His wife had gone in for the quarterly parent-teacher conference with their three children who attend Dowell, two sons in the second and fifth grades and their kindergarten daughter, and let each child pick out a book.
The daughter picked out a brightly colored picture book about the Islamic faith, which cost about $5, Prisock, a general contractor who lives in west Cobb said.
As they were reading through it together, Prisock was alarmed at the book’s message and pictures.
“Blue is the hijab Mom likes to wear. It’s a scarf she uses to cover her hair,” one page read.
“Red is the rug Dad kneels on to pray, facing toward Mecca five times a day,” read another.
A synopsis of the book on Amazon’s website says: “Magnificently capturing the colorful world of Islam for the youngest readers, this breathtaking and informative picture book celebrates Islam’s beauty and traditions.”
Prisock said he closed the book before they had a chance to read through it completely.
At Thursday night’s school board meeting, Prisock brought the book and showed the board members the religious symbols, including a picture of the Quran, which he said disturbed him.
Board members listened patiently, although Brad Wheeler, who represents the area that includes Dowell Elementary, said he knew very little about the policy for screening books for school book fairs.
Wheeler said he encouraged Prisock to contact his school principal and seek a resolution there, and to get back to him if he needed anything else.
The book fair was put on this year by the school’s PTA, and the books were sent in from Scholastic Press, a publishing company specializing in children’s books. The publisher selected the books to include in the sale, said PTA President and fifth-grade parent Abi Nesmith.
Students had the chance to visit the book fair starting last Thursday, Oct. 17, and created ‘wish lists’ of the books they liked after browsing the more than 3,000 books at the fair, she said.
Parents, during this week’s parent-teacher conferences, were able to come in and purchase the books for their children, she said.
Almost 1,000 books were sold at this year’s fair, Nesmith said, and the money went toward school grants for the arts, science programs and individual teacher needs that might arise in classrooms.
Dowell Elementary has a diverse student population, Nesmith said, and about 65 percent of the school’s 956 students are not native English speakers.
Prisock was not assured there was adequate representation from other religions and cultures at the fair, and was told there were no Christmas-themed books for sale when he visited.
“I don’t want this culture around my children, let’s get them educated first. Learn to read and write before we start teaching (about) the fanaticals,” Prisock said.
The school’s population was reflected in the book fair’s diversity, which included Christians, Muslims and Jews, Nesmith said, and Prisock’s complaint was the first that she had heard.
He brought the book to school and spoke with the principal about it, and was eventually allowed to return the book, he said.
“I know they are trying to do a good thing, this just struck me as wrong,” said Prisock, “That culture there doesn’t seem to have anything good coming out of it.”
Doug Goodwin, a spokesman for the Cobb school district, said the district “welcomes book fairs operated by Scholastic to our schools to promote literacy and foster a love for reading among Cobb students. The book fairs offer a wide variety of children’s literature, with thousands of titles selected by Scholastic for students to choose from and purchase. If a parent feels the content of a selection from the book fair is not appropriate for their child, the District’s Library Media Education department will gladly assist them in selecting a replacement book from Scholastic.”