Award Winning Children’s Book Author
Former Teacher and Educator at Heart
Travels from: Philadelphia, PA

“Muslim children are the center of the stories I tell. Whether their faith is explicitly shown or not, the characters are unapologetically Muslim. I hope that every Muslim child who reads my books is also seeing a message that runs through all my stories: be boldly you, appreciate you, appreciate every part of you.” — Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, M.S.Ed, is a Philadelphia-based, award-winning children’s book author. A former English teacher, she educated children and teens in traditional and alternative learning settings for more than 15 years. As an inaugural fellow with the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC), she also developed foundational curricular frameworks for youth and adult anti-racist programming and this work continues to influence her writing. Her picture books and middle grade fiction, which feature young Black and Muslim protagonists, have been recognized as the best in children’s literature by Time Magazine, NCTE, and NPR, and she is a 2021 Irma Black Award Honor author.

A former teacher and forever educator at heart, she is probably most proud that her picture book Your Name Is a Song was named a NEA Read Across America book and that it is included in the standardized curriculums of major school districts throughout the United States. In addition to producing children’s literature, she invests her time in the mentorship of aspiring children’s book authors through multiple programs including We Need Diverse Books and the Muslim Storytellers Fellowship of the Highlights Foundation where she is also a program committee member. She is a two-time winner of the Muslim Bookstagram picture book award and she has earned the prestigious Walter, Irma Black, and Golden Kite award honors for her work.

Jamilah's Featured Titles

Sister Friend: A Picture Book

Harry N. Abrams |

Perfect for fans of The Day You Begin and Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away, author Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrator Shahrzad Maydani’s Sister Friend is a heartwarming new picture book celebrating the unique joy of cultivating friendships within your cultural community.

Ameena feels invisible. It’s been that way since she started at her new school. But now there is another new girl in class. Ameena sees her brownness and her hijab, even though the other kids do not.

Ameena wants to be her friend, but she can’t seem to find the right words or do the right things. Until one day, they find them together: “Assalamu Alaikum, Sister. Welcome.”

Salat in Secret

Random House Studio |

From the critically acclaimed author of Your Name Is a Song and the bestselling illustrator of The Proudest Blue comes a story about a Muslim boy who receives a salat (prayer) rug on his seventh birthday and becomes empowered about his faith.

In this beautiful story of community, family, and acceptance, a boy named Muhammad receives a special salat rug on his seventh birthday. Seven is the age when Muslim children are encouraged to pray, and Muhammad is determined to do all five daily prayers on time. But one salat occurs during the school day–and he’s worried about being seen praying at school. His father parks his truck to worship in public places, and people stare at and mock him. Will the same thing happen to Muhammad?

In the end, with help from his teacher, he finds the perfect place to pray. Salat in Secret, by two highly acclaimed Muslim creators, is a poignant and empowering look at an important facet of Islam that many observant children cherish but might be scared to share.

Hold Them Close: A Love Letter to Black Children

HarperCollins |

When happy things come to you, hold them close and never let go.

From celebrated author of Your Name Is a Song Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, fine artist Patrick Dougher, and photographer Jamel Shabazz, Hold Them Close is a picture book celebration of Black past, present, and future—a joyful love letter to Black children.

As affirming as it is touching and warm, Hold Them Close encourages young children to hold close their joy, the words of their ancestors and elders, as well as their power to change the world. A perfect book for shared story time, this book will inspire young people to march forth with pride, glow, and happiness.

“A love poem to Black children that both educates and bolsters.” —Kirkus Reviews

A Bank Street College of Education’s Children’s Book Committee’s Best Children’s Books of the Yearpick!

Abdul’s Story

Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers |

A 2022 New York Public Library Best Book for Kids!

A little boy who loves storytelling but struggles with writing learns that it’s okay to make mistakes in this charming and encouraging picture book from the author of Mommy’s Khimar.

Abdul loves to tell stories. But writing them down is hard. His letters refuse to stay straight and face the right way. And despite all his attempts, his papers often wind up with more eraser smudges than actual words. Abdul decides his stories just aren’t meant to be written down…until a special visitor comes to class and shows Abdul that even the best writers—and superheroes—make mistakes.

Your Name Is a Song

The Innovation Press |

Frustrated by a day full of teachers and classmates mispronouncing her beautiful name, a little girl tells her mother she never wants to come back to school. In response, the girl’s mother teaches her about the musicality of African, Asian, Black-American, Latinx, and Middle Eastern names on their lyrical walk home through the city. Empowered by this newfound understanding, the young girl is ready to return the next day to share her knowledge with her class. Your Name is a Song is a celebration to remind all of us about the beauty, history, and magic behind names.

Your Name is a Song includes back matter perfect for parents, educators, caregivers, and young readers who want to learn more about the names featured in the story. The “Glossary of Names” lists each name’s meaning, origin, and pronunciation. Additionally, readers can use a listed link to access an online video of the author pronouncing all the names in the book.

Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices

Harry N. Abrams |

Once Upon an Eid is a joyous short story collection by and about Muslims, edited by New York Times bestselling authors Aisha Saeed and S. K. Ali.

Eid! The short, single syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift giving and the holiday parties, or carnival rides to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy.

Contributors include G. Willow Wilson, Hena Khan, N. H. Senzai, Hanna Alkaf, Rukhsana Khan, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Ashley Franklin, Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, Candice Montgomery, Huda Al-Marashi, Ayesha Mattu, Asmaa Hussein, and Sara Alfageeh.

“Each story is engaging, full of emotion and thought. . . . This thoughtful and uplifting volume will keep readers turning pages year-round; here’s to many more.” —Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“A range of diverse, multidimensional characters—among them Shia Muslim, converted Muslim, Algerian, Caribbean, and West African representation—results in a stimulating, celebratory read.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Mommy’s Khimar

Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers |

Selected as a Best Book of 2018 by NPR, Kirkus ReviewsSchool Library Journal, and Shelf Awareness!

A young Muslim girl spends a busy day wrapped up in her mother’s colorful headscarf in this sweet and fanciful picture book from debut author and illustrator Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn.

A khimar is a flowing scarf that my mommy wears.
Before she walks out the door each day, she wraps one around her head.

A young girl plays dress up with her mother’s headscarves, feeling her mother’s love with every one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl’s life.


Read Aloud in a Cape (or Khimar): Recommended for Toddlers - Grade 1

After an interactive read aloud of Mommy’s Khimar, participants will be able to dress up and act out portions of the book. Movement activities included. Optional: A craft activity in which Jamilah shows children how to make a paper doll with a khimar or cape can be added (event organizers are required to provide craft materials to participants if this is desired).


Read Aloud, Movement, and Q&A: Recommended for Grades K-4

This presentation includes engaging read aouds of two picture books of your choice with a movement break in between, and brief Q&A at the end. Participants will be encouraged to sing along, chant, dance, and/or act out portions of books.


The Author in You: Recommended for Grades 1-6

This presentation includes a reading and discussion of Abdul’s Story, a picture book about a child who doesn’t believe he can be a writer, and a workshop in which students will learn and practice Jamilah’s secrets for coming up with story ideas. Bring pencils and paper!


Author Talk & Read Aloud: Recommended for Grades 4-8

In this inspiring talk with Q&A, the author tells the story of her author journey and lessons she’s learned and then reads aloud one of her picture books or an excerpt from Once Upon an Eid or Grounded.


Power to the Poets: Recommended for Grades 3- Adult

We’ll read Hold Them Close: A Love Letter to Black Children and/or “Eid Pictures” from Once Upon an Eid, then write our own poems about self-love, social justice, and liberation.


Our Names Are Songs, Our Names Are Stories: Family Writing Activity

This presentation includes a reading of Your Name is a Song, storytelling about the origins of our names, and then writing family poems that tell our name stories.


Adult Programming

In addition to being an accomplished author, Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow is an experienced ELA professional development provider and antiracist educator who loves to speak on these topics. She has an M.Ed in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S.Ed in Secondary English from Temple University and is certified to teach secondary English and secondary social studies. As an educator, she taught middle and high school English for over ten years and then directed programs at a nonprofit writing center for children ages 2-17. Through her work as a nonprofit program director, she trained staff and volunteers in teaching writing to youth and developed a wide variety of writing units and workshops. She also worked as a lead instructional designer and fellow for Muslim Anti-Racist Collaborative, writing antiracist curricula for all age groups in Muslim-centered spaces and creating foundational learning frameworks for use for future curricular design. Some representative adult programs she has done includes:

  • Discussing the social justice implications and uses of children’s books (with a focus on anti-racism)
  • Presenting principles for making writing workshop spaces inclusive for all children
  • Read aloud of her books as if the adults were young children and then answering questions about them (this has been requested a number of times!)
  • Teaching the craft and process of becoming a children’s book author
  • Discussing writing identity and representation as a children’s book author

Name pronunciations from the picture book Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Luisa Uribe.

Mommy’s Khimar Trailer

Here’s a link to Jamilah’s Teaching Resource Page

Here’s a link to Jamilah’s Author Resource Page

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Sister Friend was named a Junior Library Guild Selection
Salat in Secret was a Golden Kit Honor book, 2024
Walter Dean Myers Honors Young Readers Award
Won a 2022 New York Public Library Best Book for Kids
2021 Irma Black Award Honor author
Your Name is a Song was named NEA Read Across America book
Jamilah’s books have been recognized as the best in children’s literature by:
Time Magazine, NCTE & NPR

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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