Rochester Hills students create nonprofit to donate diverse books to public libraries

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. – A new donation from Girls of the Crescent to the Rochester Hills Public Library added to the diversity of the books available.

"We're the public's library," said Christine Lind Hage, the director of the library. "We have 100,000 people, so our collection serves all of them."

The library now has new books aimed at teenagers and children highlighting Muslim women as the main characters. 

"There's more traditional stories like 'Sleeping Beauty,' 'Snow White,'" said Betsy Raczkowski, the manager of youth services at the library. "Every kid is going to recognize that and then there's more cultural and religious books and then there's also fun fiction."

Girls of the Crescent is an organization run by 15-year-old Zena Nasiri and her 14-year-old sister Mena Nasiri.

"Girls of the Crescent collects books with female Muslim main characters, through book and money donations, and then we donate them to schools and libraries in our district," said Zena.

"We want to see children like us included in a book," said Mena. 

The sisters were inspired to start the organization after a school project required them to write about a role model.

"We went into this library with some Muslim woman in mind, because they're really big role models for us, but we couldn't find any books and that's how the idea came," said Mena.

The teens are planning to expand their organization and they're writing their own book in their spare time. They hope their organization will help show the importance of representation.

"When you read, you immerse yourself into a different world," Zena said. "When you can connect to the characters on a personal level, it enhances the reading experience."

You can help and donate to Girls of the Crescent at its official website here.

About the Authors:

Koco joined the Local 4 News team in September of 2016. She was born and raised in Metro Detroit, attended Central Michigan University, and previously worked at WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids.