Hena Khan was an avid reader when she was younger, but the books she read didn't include characters like her -- a second-generation Pakistani-American girl living in Rockville, Maryland.

Although Khan, 45, said she was not aware of that at the time, she realizes now that she was affected by the lack of representation.

Now a children's book author, Khan said she chose her career out of a desire to fill that gap she felt as a child.

Pakistani and Muslim culture regularly are featured in her writing, which includes "Amina's Voice," "It's Ramadan, Curious George," and "Under my Hijab."

Khan will appear from 9 to 10 a.m. Feb. 23 at Dublin Coffman High School for a free family discussion session for children and parents in the Dublin City School District.

The event is part of the district's annual Dublin Literacy Conference, an enrichment opportunity for teachers of grades K-12 in and out of the state, said Jennifer Wolf, reading intervention teacher in the Dublin City Schools district and literacy conference chairwoman.

The family session also is held annually to introduce children and their families to professional authors and support literacy development, Wolf said.

During the session, "Every Voice Matters," Khan will discuss her experience as a reader who didn't see herself represented in children's literature and why each person has a voice that matters, Wolf said.

Lauren Scott, an elementary school teacher with Dublin City Schools who helped prepare the family session, said letting children know their voices are important is a powerful thing.

"People are listening," she said.

Dublin City Schools has 15,472 students, according to statistics provided by district spokesman Doug Baker.

Of that figure, 20.6 percent of students identify as Asian or Pacific Islander, 5 percent identify as black and non-Hispanic, 7.1 percent identify as Hispanic, 5.9 percent identify as multiracial and 61.3 percent identify as white and non-Hispanic.

Students who are learning English as a second language make up 8.9 percent, or 1,375 students in the district, according to Baker.

People don't always realize how diverse the Dublin school district is, Scott said, and the books Khan writes focus on diversity and voice.

She said she hopes students learn from her message that every child, no matter race or gender, can be heard.

Those who want to attend the literacy conference event must register by Feb. 20, Wolf said.

More information is available at dublinschools.net.

Khan also will be available for a book signing from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. Feb. 23 at Coffman.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah