We are Pakistani-Canadian immigrants who moved to Toronto in our early teens. Although both of us grew up in Urdu speaking households and the language played a huge role in shaping us, by the time we met in high school, assimilation had set in and, like so many desi couples, we ended up speaking with each other mostly in English.
It wasn’t until we had kids many years later that the realization hit - Urdu was going to fade away if something did not change. It felt unfair to deprive our children of the opportunity to experience the cultural bond our mother tongue enabled.
We decided to incorporate more Urdu but quickly realized that appropriate resources were not available. Urdu books were difficult to find even in a city as diverse as Toronto. When we did manage to get some from Pakistan, they were just too complex for North American children. Plus, we had the added issue faced by many immigrants who moved at a young age - Hamid's spoken Urdu was strong, but the ability to read the script had degraded over time.
With COVID-19 lockdowns ongoing, we decided to use the extra time we had together as a family to solve this problem. Leveraging Masooma's graduate degree in Early Childhood Studies, we embarked on our new mission of empowering children to understand and speak Urdu.
In September 2020, we published our first four classic children’s storybooks. These books are written in both the Urdu script as well as Urdu using the English alphabet (phonetics), along with English translations. Since then we have expanded to 12 books across four different reading levels, with an exciting vision ahead of us.
The response has been incredible - whether it’s the excitement from having their children use Urdu words for the first time, or the fulfilment from parents finally being able to read an Urdu story (phonetically) to their kids - we have loved the all the stories we continue to receive from parents.
We are very excited about the journey ahead, and welcome you to join us. We encourage you start by reading more about our 4 Step Program here.
Masooma and Hamid