Lucy Abdullah is the talented author of Aisha the Indian Princess visits France, Aisha the Indian Princess visits Great Britain and Aisha the Indian Princess visits India, about a little Indian Princess who visits the world meeting people and learning along the way. Every book showcases the flag, teaches some words in the native language of the country, has a counting page and search page, where the reader has to find the characters. Check out her books and her lovely Pakistani handmade traditional clothes (salwar kameez) on her web site.
What was your childhood like? How did your parents teach you about other cultures?
I grew up in sunny Surrey with my mum, dad and brother. My dad was very old school and actually thinking back on it he was not very open-minded about multicultural living. I think it was the era he was born in… it wasn’t his fault, it was the only way they knew back then. We didn’t eat “foreign foods” or mix with “different people.” Its not that my dad was racist, he just didn’t understand and was uneducated about different cultures and beliefs. My mum on the other hand was young and worked in a Primary School as a special needs helper and she was always the life and soul of everything.
What gave you the idea for your books? Is Princess Aisha based on someone real?
I have four beautiful young children of mixed race. My husband’s family is from Pakistan, and although he was born and bred in the UK, he spent four years of his life living there. As a result of this we have many pictures at home of Pakistan and of many other places we have all visited throughout our lives before and after having children.
My children find the pictures fascinating and always ask me questions about the different Countries and what the children are like there. As a family we are always keen to learn about different peoples cultures. One day as I was showing the pictures to my children and explaining about the difference in the cultures, I realized that maybe other children would love to read and learn about this too. This is what inspired me to create Aisha the Indian Princess, based on and around my daughter ‘Aisha.’
What is the message you would like to give to children in your books?
As we live in a multicultural world it is good to know about different cultures so why not make it fun and educational at the same time. Our children are our future and if we can help to make the world a friendlier and more peaceful place by encouraging them to embrace differences at an early age- this can only help.
Why do you think it is important for kids to learn about differing perspectives and ways of doing things?
It’s really important that children are not taught to treat others differently based on their looks or beliefs. Its also important that they know its OK to ask questions rather then speculate about why people are the way they are. There is a famous saying that “children are not born racist” and this is so true. Society places people into groups and that puts prejudices on people who then pass this down to their children. I hope that education can make this easier subject to talk about and if young children can embrace it then we can only move forward not backwards.
I have had great fun writing these books and with a lot of help from my children we have learnt, laughed, and enjoyed it all the way. They really like the characters and the simple format of learning. The books are great fun to read and you can really enjoy the search and interaction with your children as you read.
So often we are missing quality books with characters of different races, and this cute little princess breaks the princess molds while charming her readers. Lucy, thank you so much for sharing these fabulous books with us.