Note: Interview questions were prepared by Zapoura Newton-Calvert and answered by Reading Guide author Nasteho Ahmed.
Zapoura (ZNC): What are you studying at PSU? What are your long-term goals for your work in the world?
Nasteho: I am studying Social Work and my long term goals in the world include me
starting a business something like a non-profit organization to help people.
Probably working with youth, single mothers, or homeless people.
ZNC: What were the big picture themes you were interested in exploring for this blog post
Nasteho: I work with elementary school students so I was really interested in diversity,
representation, and belonging.
ZNC: Where does your own identity intersect with what these books talk about? How does
your own identity impact the way you read, select books, experience books?
Nasteho: I am a Black, African-American Muslim woman, and I grew up in a country
that isn’t my own. A lot of people can’t pronounce my name or I didn’t see someone who
looked like me in books and a lot of my childhood I struggled with identity because it
was hard to go back and forth in both cultures. As we grow up it is important to see
people who look like us in movies and books because it creates a sense of belonging.
ZNC: What tools, resources, or processes did you find useful as you created these lesson
Nasteho: I really wanted to expand my perspectives and search for books that I hadn't read yet. The first lesson plan was easy to do for the first book because it was one of
Zapoura's recommendations, and as I wanted to do with my second lesson plan, I
was looking for books that were clearly about representation. If there was a book
that I thought was a good choice, I would read the books first, listen to the read
aloud just to make sure that the books were still a good fit for the subject. I was
searching for books that I felt would be a good idea for a diverse group of people.
ZNC: What do you hope readers will get from this content? What are your dreams for
change in the world?
Nasteho: My vision for the future is that children will be able to read books and see
someone who looks like them and will identify themselves in books. My dream is
that they would love to read, and that they will feel more beautiful and reflected.
From this material, I hope that readers will be able to recognize themselves in
books and recognize the value of the diversity and representation in books.