Medeia Cohan was struggling to find a book to explain to her two-year-old son why people wear special head-coverings as an expression of their religion.
She realised she was not the only with the problem when a friend relayed an “embarrassing” story about her daughter calling a woman in traditional Muslim dress “a ghost”.
So Ms Cohan, from south London, wrote Hats Of Faith, a book which explains religious headgear for young children.
She explained: “My son was getting to that age where he would start pointing to things on the street and asking about them.
“We are Jewish and he knows about kippot, but he doesn’t know why other faiths wear religious clothing.
“We live in Tooting and on a Sunday there are lots of African women going to church in amazing headwear.
“I wanted him to know about and understand what other cultures do so that he didn’t point and ask embarrassing question that could seem rude.”
She said she looked “high and low” for a book that could educate her son, but “there was nothing out there.
“Most books for kids don’t have people dressed in religious clothes. It is not the sort of thing children are shown in books or on the television.”
The 40-year-old teamed up with her Muslim friend Hajera Memon, who happened to be a publisher, to produce the book.
Ms Cohan said: “When we found an illustrator who happened to be a Christian to do the pictures, we realised the three of us represented what the book is trying to do.”
According to Ms Cohan, the book is the perfect introduction to faith-based head-coverings and is “a brilliant way to teach children about different religious customs and tolerance.
“It was just after the Brexit vote and I thought I had to do something positive to counter the negative backlash that minority and faith-based communities were facing. It took months of research. We spoke to all kinds of faith leaders to make sure the information that we published was factual.”
The book features drawings of children wearing different headgear such as a kippah, a hijab, a patka — the turban worn by Sikh boys — and a traditional African dhuku.
The women also worked with educators to develop teaching tools, activities, and lesson plans to make it easy for schools to incorporate the book into the curriculum.
Ms Cohan said: “People love it. I’ve been into schools to run workshops and children love seeing positive images of their faith in a book. They also like to learn about what others do as well. They say things like, ‘that is what my mummy does.’”