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Reflecting on grief, love, and hope with Aya and the Butterfly storybook


Book cover with elderly woman and young girl in garden.

Aya and the Butterfly is a new picture book to help children come to terms with grief, cope with change, and build resilience. An online version is now available to early childhood and primary school aged children across Aotearoa New Zealand. 

The book is written by Dr Maysoon Salama who lost her beloved son, Atta, in the mosque attacks. Dr Salama said she wrote this story for her granddaughter (Aya) and for other children dealing with loss and trauma.

"Aya’s father’s death is implied, but this is not the story’s focus, and children do not need to know how it happened. They do need to know that sometimes we have to say goodbye to the people and the things we love the most. In the face of such overwhelming loss, we must allow ourselves to remember and feel sad, but we must also learn to let go and keep going. There is hope," says Dr Salama.

Islamic Women's Council logo

Aya and the Butterfly is part of a four-book series designed to support, reflect, and celebrate the Muslim community in Aotearoa New Zealand. It has been developed with the Islamic Women’s Council and published by the Ministry of Education through Lift Education.

"The book joins part of a growing collection of learning resources that reflect the diverse culture and perspectives of children and young people across Aotearoa New Zealand," says Ministry of Education Deputy Secretary Early Learning and Student Achievement, Ellen MacGregor-Reid.

"The book is accompanied by a teaching guide to assist with conversations with learners around the topics of grief and loss, and the cycle of life in general. We thank Dr Salama for trusting us with her story and enabling us to share it widely to all learners."

The online book can be downloaded for free here. It will be available in English and Arabic.

Print copies of the book will be delivered to early learning services and schools during term four 2021.

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