New Publishing Company Focused Exclusively on Telling Stories Involving Diverse Characters Launches in St. Cloud
(St. Cloud, MN) – As a child, Abdi Mahad remembers hearing and
reading many stories about children that looked like him. When he
moved to the United States from Somalia, however, finding books with
characters he could relate to was difficult.
“If you look at the data, just 20 percent of children’s books are written by
black authors,” he said. “The number is even less for Latino and
indigenous people, so there is a major lack of representation of people in
color in children’s books—both authors and storylines.”
Abdi Mahad and his wife, Hudda, who make their home in St. Cloud,
Minnesota, are on a mission to change that. They have started up Diverse
Voices Press, a publishing company that will be devoted to telling stories
“Anyone can write the story, no matter their race, ethnicity or
orientation. The only requirement is that the stories feature diverse
characters,” said Abdi Mahad, who added that Diverse Voices Press will publish bilingual books as well.
“We have been through the traditional publishing process a few times and we were not happy with the process, particularly the selection process for people of color,” said Hudda Ibrahim. “We wanted to provide an opportunity for people of color to tell their stories with the help of a publishing company that understands them and their stories.
We wanted to give them in an opportunity in a place they normally wouldn’t
have had one.”
Hudda Ibrahim is a Bush Leadership Fellow with the Bush Foundation. She is also currently in a doctoral program at St. Mary’s University, and teaches
diversity and social justice at St. Cloud Technical and Community College in St. Cloud. She holds a master’s degree in peace studies from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor’s degree in peace and conflict studies and English literature from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota. She is also a published author with three books in the marketplace. “From Somalia to Snow” gives readers an invaluable insider’s look into the lives and culture of the Somali people who have made Minnesota their new home.
She is also the author of “What Color is My Hijab?” and “Waa Midabkee Xijaabkaygu?” The latter is the Somali edition of “What Color is My Hijab?”
The children’s book was written to inspire young people to achieve great things while at the same time teaching children the importance of diversity. It is also about how young girls can wear the headscarf and be somebody—be creative, smart, professional women when they grow up.
Hudda Ibrahim is currently working on a new series of children’s books that will be published by Diverse Voices Press. The books will feature diverse characters who work as professionals—police officers, doctors, government leaders, etc. Until COVID hit, Abdi Mahad was working as a high school classroom teacher for St. Cloud Area School District 742. He also designed and developed the first Somali curriculum in the state.
Here’s how the Abdi’s publishing company will work: authors will be asked to send their working title and a brief synopsis of their book, explaining the premise and why they wrote it, along with a sample chapter to firstname.lastname@example.org. One or two editors will be assigned to review the material, and if it meets the company’s requirements, the author will be invited to work with the press.
If the book is accepted, the author will be provided with a list of editors they can work with to finalize the manuscript, then once finalized will be connected with a designer to do the layout.
Authors are responsible for paying the cost of the editing and design work, and printing books if they want physical copies. Diverse Voices Press will cover the cost of the ISBN number or numbers assigned to the book, as well as distribution and marketing. “The goal of our company is really to tell those authentic stories and experiences that are either underrepresented or overlooked,” said Hudda Ibrahim. “It is really rare to find a book that represent our children and community, and that’s why Abdi and I are so excited and elated about starting something that can actually help all children, including refugees, immigrants, black, indigenous, LGBTQ, and
For more information, go to DiverseVoicesPress.com.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To arrange an interview with Abdi and/or Hudda Ibrahim, contact Rachel M. Anderson, Publicist, Diverse Voices Press, at 952-240-2513 or email@example.com.