February 2, 2022

Edmonton teen publishes children’s book about cultural diversity

by Andrea Dion - CTV NEWS

An Edmonton high school student is now a published author after writing a children’s book celebrating Canada’s diversity.

Medina Assiff, 16, wrote The Colours of Canada for a school contest, but once the contest fell through, her parents and English teacher encouraged her to try and do something with it because they liked the message.

“I didn’t initially intend to get it published,” Assiff told CTV News Edmonton.

But she did. After reaching out to a few publishers, the book was picked up and made its official debut in January.

It showcases 15 different ethnicities and nations including Lebanon, Jamaica, England, Japan and Indigenous people in Canada.

“I’ve always viewed Canada as this mosaic that everyone who lives here contributes to and Canada wouldn’t be such a vibrant country if all of the contributors weren’t so different,” she said.

Assiff added that she never really saw herself in books as a kid and wanted to write something where people felt represented.

“Hopefully when kids read it they can see themselves in it and it will prompt them to learn more about different cultures.”

Assiff dedicated her first book to her four-year-old sister as she often reads to her and recognized how children’s stories can shape early adolescence.

“By revisiting my childhood stories through her and realizing the impact, I made the decision that if I could infuse mine with positive messages about appreciating diversity and welcoming inclusion then that’s a book I would want my little sister to read.”

Assiff noted that each page she drafted was heavily researched right down to the colours she chose.

For instance, the page for Lebanon was made green because it’s known for its cedar trees, she explained.

“For a lot of it I could draw from people I know because that’s what I love so much about living in Canada. Your neighbours are all so different and you learn so much from the people around you.”

But when asked who her favorite character was in the book, Assiff shied away from the question because it was too “hard to pick.”

In the end, she said Lebanon because she chose her sister to represent that page.

“She did not like her page because it’s not pink,” Assiff laughed.

She hopes kids like her sister will find the book educational in a “culturally fun way.”

The Colours of Canada is available on Amazon.

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