DuPage Co. mother and son's bedtime story becomes children's book on diversity

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A local mother and son used their time together during the COVID-19 pandemic to tell each other beautiful bedtime stories. One of them has now been published as an inspiring book called "Little Birdies Lose Their Colors."

Ayaan Sheikh, 7, loves reading to his little brother Azeem, especially his own book.

In "Little Birdies Lose Their Colors," a flock of colorful birds fly into a big cloud and then something strange happens.

"They all turned white and they didn't know who was who," Ayaan explained.

"The story just kind of happened. I think one night it was bedtime. The story was they lost their colors and Ayaan was like, 'Oooh.' He was pretty excited. I thought, 'We better have a really good ending for those, 'cause he's pretty excited," said Hafsa Naz Mamood, mother and co-author.

That was the beginning of their literary journey together. Mother and son not only came up with an ending, but they decided to literally put together a book that could go in their local DuPage County library, complete with artwork and a message about diversity and inclusion.

"Those are sometimes not the easiest messages to talk about, but they are very important for kids to understand and learn about," Hafsa aid. "So it's just a soft, gentle way to share that message with kids."

Hafsa truly understands that message; her family is originally from Pakistan.

"I think it's a message that roots down to the existence of humanity: That we all come from different places and we're all different, but we're all beautifully similar the same way," she said.

So how do the birds get their brilliance back? By eating a fruit or vegetable that matches their original color. Ayaan said he's the green one, who ate a pear and a cucumber to get his color back.

With that, the green bird went back to shooting hoops, lesson learned and lesson shared.

"It's a beautiful thing to be unique and different colors, races and ethnicities and identities and everything, and just to embrace each other exactly how we are and just be ourselves," Hafsa said.

Ayaan was able to read his own book in front of his second grade class at DuPage Montessori School. The students had questions about book publishing and they wanted to know how to find "Little Birdies Lose Their Colors."

For more information on "Little Birdies Lose Their Colors" and to buy your own copy, visit little-birdies.com.
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