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‘Elevate and empower’: How St. Cloud’s Diverse Voices Press is filling a gap in children’s literature

A St. Cloud–based publishing company is releasing books with an emphasis on diversity in an effort to encourage more people to read and learn about their cultures.

Diverse Voices Press is an independent publishing company whose mission is to publish books by underrepresented voices.

Abdi Mahad and his wife Hudda Ibrahim founded the company during the pandemic after seeing a lack of representation for Somali children in the books children read. “There was a gap in literature, especially children’s books,” Abdi said. “We need just to close that kind of gap.”

Abdi said the idea came from his time teaching English to a group of Somalis who asked if he could provide books in Somali or with Somali characters. Many of the students left Somalia at an early age and had no real connection to their native language and culture in America, according to Abdi.

Hudda said the need isn’t specific to the Somali community but can be seen in other immigrant communities. To read full article on Sahan Journal, Click here

Local writers, editors start publishing company in St. Cloud all about showcasing diversity

ST. CLOUD — Two St. Cloud professionals are starting a venture intended to amplify stories of diversity for the next generation of readers and writers.

Husband and wife team Abdi Mahad and Hudda Ibrahim are launching independent publishing company Diverse Voices Press, an enterprise focused on helping authors tell stories about diversity. Mahad is the principal founder, and Ibrahim the co-founder.

The pair said they’ve taken notice of a lack of diverse literature across Minnesota and the U.S., and Diverse Voices Press is an intentional step toward seeing more of those stories be told. To read full article on St. Cloud Times, Click here

Q&A: What’s it like to create a first-of-its-kind Somali language curriculum?

ST. CLOUD — Three years after creating what was thought to be the first high school-level curriculum for native Somali speakers in the state and country, Abdi Mahad is at it again — this time creating what is thought to be the first elementary Somali immersion program in the nation.

ABdi and his wife, Hudda Ibrahim, founded a business providing diversity and inclusion training to organizations. The duo also launched a publishing company that focuses on helping diverse authors tell stories about underrepresented communities. Mahad’s now working with Somali language experts to create elementary immersion curriculums for  many school districts — which plan to add a dual English/Somali immersion program next year — as well as four other school districts across the country. Read this article on Star Tribune

Literary pick of the week: ‘What Color is My Hijab?’ launches Diverse Voices publishing company

A new Minnesota publishing company, Diverse Voices Press, will debut this week with launch of co-owner Hudda Ibrahim’s children’s picture book “What Color is My Hijab?” in English and Somali editions. The English version of the book, which features women from all professions wearing colorful Hijabs, came out last year but because of the pandemic was never officially launched.

To read full article on Twin Cities, Click here

St. Cloud couple launch publishing company promoting diverse authors, characters

Fledgling publishers will give voice to authors of color who have struggled to be heard
ST. CLOUD – A few years ago, Hudda Ibrahim’s niece asked her why characters in books don’t look like her.

The question from Fatima spurred an idea for a children’s book featuring Muslim women of all ages and professions wearing different colored hijabs — a teacher in a brown headscarf, a doctor in yellow and an athlete in black.

“I like writing essays and chapter books,” said Ibrahim, a teacher and author of a book detailing how central Minnesota became home to many Somali refugees, including herself. “I never thought I’d go into children’s books.”

But Fatima was right. Children’s books are overwhelmingly written by white authors and much more frequently feature white characters. To read full article on Star Tribune, Click here

‘Think big and aim high’: St. Cloud author hopes to inspire children to follow their dreams

Author and entrepreneur Hudda Ibrahim has called St. Cloud, Minnesota, home. Born in Somalia, Ibrahim moved with her family as a child to the United States.

Ibrahim began working on her first book, “From Somalia to Snow: How Central Minnesota Became Home to Somalis,” while teaching classes on diversity and social justice and working as an admissions counselor at the college.  To read full article on Star Tribune, Click here:

St. Cloud teacher and author writes book for children wearing hijabs

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Call Hudda Ibrahim overly organized.

She said she likes to lay out her outfit for the next day every night.

“I love to accessorize my hijab and look good,” Ibrahim said. “It really makes my day when I have a pretty hijab on and I look chic, modest and sophisticated.”

Wednesday was no exception. Ibrahim was wearing a patterned hijab with splashes of black, brown and white. Her outfit of a black shirt under a brown blazer was a perfect match.

Hudda Ibrahim said when she didn’t see any books with characters wearing hijabs, she wanted to write her own. Watch Hudda’s Interview on Kare 11 News


CSB and SJU students bond with children via ‘Books with College Buddies’ at St. Cloud COP House

Once a week, she and Bos and Hall pile into a car and drive to the COP House, which is staffed by the St. Cloud Police Department but also serves as a community connecting space where area residents can get access to needed health, wellness, and other services. Gold Cross Ambulance, CentraCare and Stearns County Social Services also have designated space in the facility, which opened in 2017. But the atmosphere is homey. There are apartment buildings nearby, and a Boys and Girls Club across the street. Children’s voices create a din as they rush in and out with familiarity.

And one of the staples in their programming is the book club. On a recent day, perhaps 20 children gathered in a large open space that might otherwise have been a garage if this were a private home. They sat at tables and on chairs, some drawn by the allure of pizza and ice cream snacks, but all in rapt attention as a special guest reader – CSB alumna Hudda Ibrahim – read from her latest book, “Lula Wants to Wear a Badge.”

The story, one of a series of children’s stories Ibrahim is writing, is based on the experience of her sister, who as a child wanted to be a police officer – only to confront cultural stereotypes that seemingly restrict what kids can be when they grow up.

“Great teachers can have a huge impact on these children,” said Ibrahim, an English and peace studies major at CSB who has been on the faculty at the St. Cloud Technical and Community College since 2015 and started her own talent business a year later. “I believe 52% of the students in the St. Cloud school district now are kids of color. What can we do to make sure that 52% gets a rigorous education so they can be what they want to be?” Read here: