Olympic fencing medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad visited Bradford School on Tuesday, Jan. 10, to read her latest picture book, “The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship,” as part of the school’s Kindness Week.

Muhammad, who grew up in Maplewood, also showed a video that included childhood photos and pictures from her Olympic journey, according to a Montclair school district press release. Muhammad won a bronze medal in the women's individual saber event at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics.

“I worked so hard to make that happen,” she said of her Olympic experience. “That video gives me chills.” 

Muhammad's fourth book, written with S.K. Ali and with illustrations by Hatem Aly, is an “exploration of friendship, faith and the joy of spreading kindness wherever you go,” the release says. 

The book tells the story of Faizah, whose teacher asks her students to envision the kind of world they want, inspiring Faizah and her friends to spend the day helping one another. The book is the sequel to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller “The Proudest Blue.”

Muhammad is the first American Muslim woman to wear a hijab while competing at the Olympic Games, and was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people in 2016. 

Olympic fencing medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad visited Bradford School Jan. 10 to read her latest picture book, “The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship,” as part of the school’s Kindness Week. (COURTESY MONTCLAIR SCHOOLS)
Olympic fencing medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad visited Bradford School Jan. 10 to read her latest picture book, “The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship,” as part of the school’s Kindness Week. (COURTESY MONTCLAIR SCHOOLS)
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Being an author gives her the opportunity to share her experiences, she said.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t see characters in books that looked like me with a hijab,” she said. “I want to make sure kids can see that.”

Muhammad’s presentation tied into Bradford’s Kindness Week, during which the school community focused on spreading acts of kindness, Principal Frances Aboushi said in the release.

“Kindness is something we all have inside and can share with others,” Muhammad told the Bradford students. “It can be small things like a smile or something bigger like helping someone tie their shoes. Children and adults can share kindness every day.”

Muhammad does not fence anymore and said her passion has shifted to storytelling.

“I always loved sports, but I also loved to write,” she said.