Hats of Faith: Celebrating Scottish Interfaith Week with Young Children and their Families

Hats of Faith is a beautifully illustrated board book which introduces young children and their families to the shared custom of head covering across many faiths. It uses accurate terminology, phonetic pronunciations and bright imagery. The book's author, Medeia Cohan, tells us a little more about the inspiration behind the book, and details of upcoming workshops for children and families based around Hats of Faith.

 

I wrote Hats of Faith because I wanted to buy something like this for my son, but it didn’t exist. Normally, I would have thought, 'oh well' or 'too bad' and moved on with life, but I just kept thinking how important it is, at this moment in time, for a book like this to exist. In this time of increased intolerance and faith and race-based hate crimes, the world needs something secular and factual and mainstream; something that isn’t preachy and is beautiful, to give children an early familiarity with head coverings.

The more I spoke about the idea with other parents, the more I kept hearing stories of children reacting badly or making embarrassing gaffs when they’d encounter someone in a head covering, like my neighbour’s 2-year-old daughter who called a women in a grey burqa a ghost. I also heard stories from those who covered their heads about never seeing themselves in mainstream books and the impact this was having on them.

Children aren’t getting important interfaith and diversity education early enough

Stories like these fuelled my belief that there simply isn’t enough diversity in books and children aren’t getting important interfaith and diversity education early enough. It’s the lack of these things that lead to fear and ultimately negative views of the unknown.

Motivated by a sudden drive to make a difference, and encouraged by other parents, I decided it was my job to write this book. Before I knew it, I was in talks with my now publisher and friend Hajera Memon to bring this book to life. The book took a year in research alone and I started thinking I’d bitten off more than I could chew. But when the illustrations by Sarah Walsh arrived in my inbox and I could see the book coming to life, I was spurred on.

Hats of Faith insert

Since actually getting the book in our hands in September the response has been tremendous; support has been coming from around the world from parents, educators, publishers and, most importantly, children!

Now that Hats of Faith is published, we’re focusing on developing free teaching tools and lesson plans to support the book and make it easy for educators and home-schoolers to incorporate the book into their curriculum. The idea is to make the book readily accessible and easy to engage with.

Visitors to the website can currently download three free colouring pages featuring images from the book to use in classrooms or at home with little ones. It’s a great way to extend the conversation from the book and let children take ownership while decorating their own head coverings.

We’re also embarking on a workshop tour, delivering free interactive sessions for families at schools and libraries across the UK. During these sessions we do readings and lead discussions before engaging in a series of fun, educational activities.

We’ll be kicking off our Scottish workshops in partnership with Scottish Book Trust during Scottish Interfaith Week. Scottish Interfaith Week runs from 12-19 November and is focused on breaking down barriers through the arts, sharing stories, poetry, performance, music and dialogue. It’s a brilliant way to celebrate Scotland’s diversity and promote understanding and cooperation, which is what Hats of Faith is really all about.

Join us at one of the workshop dates below or visit us at www.hatsoffaith.com.

Images by Ian Marriott-Smith Photography
Date Time Venue
14 Nov 2017 10.30 - 11.30 Gorbals Library, 180 Crown St, Glasgow G5 9XD (1 to 5 year-olds)
15 Nov 2017 10.30 - 11.30 The Out Of The Blue Drill Hall, 36 Dalmeny St, Edinburgh EH6 8RG (all ages)
15 Nov 2017 15.30 - 16.30

St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, 2 Castle Street, Glasgow, G4 0RH (3+ years)

16 Nov 2017 14.00 - 15.00 St James Primary School, 10 Brown St S, Renfrew PA4 8HL (3+ years)
19 Nov 2017 14.00 - 16.30 Hillhead Primary School, 110 Otago St, Glasgow G12 8NS (all ages)