Saturday, September 23, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 7, 1445 H
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A book that celebrates being different


A book with an important message for young readers is, ‘Laila Has Stripes’ written by Shahad Nasr al Wahaibi.

Shahad works in the oil and gas sector and is the Chief Marketing Officer for iSAW a global organization that accelerates women’s growth in the corporate world. She is also the local consular for Strathclyde MBA in Oman and teaches a marketing course. She has also been the recipient of the NTI BizPro Award and is a member of the Toastmasters community.


This is the first book for the author of the children’s book who comes from a family that loves books and reading.

The story is about Laila who has stripes and so she looks different in the eyes of others. Laila used to live on a farm; but when she moved to the city, she discovered that she is different. The book is about her journey of accepting the situation, how her parents handle it, and leaving the reader with the thought of how one can make life better for somebody like Laila.

Shahad has majored in Finance which deals in a way with numbers but her passion is also for words.

“One of my instructors at Sultan Qaboos University had said with finance you can see the future, as we can read if something would work or not in terms of the corporate world. So I use numbers to see what would happen business-wise and words are a way for me to shape the future and the minds of our future generation. That is why I chose to write children’s books,” Shahad explained.

This is her first book, but the book indicates a sequel.

“I am planning to make Laila a series. I have seven other girls out there in my mind. So I will be starting to work on them. But I also wanted to see if the concept is well received. The good thing since the announcement of the publication is that the response has been excellent,” she noted.

She has received invitations from various organizations. It is only after you read the book one can clearly see it is a book even adults should read to guide their children on how to treat children with special needs or who could be different in any way.

Shahad writes a personal message to young readers.

“Laila wants you to remember that it is alright for you or others to be different if you are kind and respectful.

When it becomes hard for you to remain different, do not forget that being different is a superpower because it helps show you – who loves you for who you truly are!” she writes.

So who is Laila?

Laila is a way to tell the children that it is okay to be different. She is born with stripes on her skin – and that is just a symbolic way of putting it as being different.

“It is something that you are seen and known for. In this story, she interacts with others for the first time and she gets the sense of being unaccepted by many because she looks different at the end her mother explains to her that being different is kind of a power and assures her that love of her mother will protect her always,” explained Shahad.

During one of the incidents a child whom Laila chose to play with in the park is accepting but the mother of the child is enraged when she sees Laila and stops her son from playing with her.

Shahad wanted a resilient face for Laila because even though Laila gets hurt she tries to smile for others' sake. But finally, Laila breaks down and her mother runs to sweep her and take her back home. The illustrations have been done by Anisa al Amri.

It is in the cozy environment of the bedroom, the mother has the delicate conversation with Laila, and in the background is the father who appreciates the way his wife is handling the situation and goes out to bring his wife’s books which she had dropped at the park when she ran to the crying Laila.

“I believe children are smart and they understand the value of empathy. We also in the story look at the importance of dolls. We have all been children once and I am sure we can all remember how strange it felt when we could not come across dolls that looked like us in the shops. Dolls are dolls and they do not depict reality. And that is one of the reasons some of the girls refused to play with Laila as they stated, ‘There is no doll that looks like her.’

To all this, her mother gives a beautiful explanation and it is best left to be read from the book.

Shahad said she has dedicated this book to children and adults because there are adults today who are still waiting to overcome the difficult childhood they had to go through because they were different in appearance.

‘Laila has stripes,’ is a book that heals.

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