"Children are not born prejudiced," author Shahnaz Qayumi writes at the beginning of her book, Like You and Me. This is a truth that she has held on to from a very young age. Born in Afghanistan with predominant ethnic groups, Pashtuns and Tajiks, being asked which one you belonged to is a common occurrence. She was nine when she was first asked, "Are you Pashtun or Tajik?". Not knowing which group she belonged to, she answered that she was Afghan. Then, she did not realize the profoundness of her answer or the implications it carried in the conversations surrounding identity.
Now a parent, early childhood educator, she believes in the importance of not letting the ethnicity that we are born into dictate who we are or how we treat others. In her book, Like You and Me, Qayumi imparts the importance of equal respect for each individual no matter the color of their skin, the culture that they represent, or the religion they are brought up in. Written in a language that children will enjoy reading and reciting, Like You and Me, celebrates the beauty that can be found in diversity. With its delightful illustrations, it explores the differences that make up each individual and helps them recognize that underneath our unique, beautiful exteriors, we are all humans, each deserving of love and respect.
Representation is vital in shaping young minds. Many conflicts, within and without, would not exist or could have been solved if all of us recognize that diversity is something that should be celebrated and not feared. When children learn to see themselves and others in a positive light at an early age, they develop a sense of acceptance, appreciation, and love. Like You and Me is a beautiful material for parents and educators to help young children understand the beauty of diversity across different cultures as well as recognizes the similarities that each of them shares.
"This is one of the most beautiful books! It captures both the beauty of diversity amongst various cultures and also the similarities that children share."
— H.S., Amazon Reader's Review
Shahnaz Qayumi was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. After finishing high school in Kabul, she went to Kiev, Ukraine on a scholarship where she received her Bachelors, and a Masters Degree in Developmental Psychology and Pedagogy.
In 1980, she returned to Afghanistan and started working as an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology of Kabul University. She was forced to flee Afghanistan with her family to Pakistan because of the brutal communist regime that captured power in Kabul. She served in refugee camps while living in Pakistan. She left Pakistan shortly after and immigrated to Canada. She truly enjoys early childhood education and most of all is fascinated with the beauty of the diversity in world culture.