If there’s one aspect of motherhood that sparks joy (thanks Marie Kondo, I love this phrase!) in me, it’s sourcing books for my children. This Ramadaan, I have a 10-year-old in a very busy school/madressah routine, and an energetic toddler who is always looking for something new to do. Due to time constraints of daily life, my kids can’t do justice to their book collection at home. So I pored through their books and selected certain titles that I thought would add value to their Ramadaan this year (among other activities/resources).
I did a post last year called Ramadaan Reads for Older Kids, which many mums found useful. This time round, I have incorporated reads for younger kids – for the benefit of my toddler as well as my domestic worker, who became a Muslim over a year ago. So here are My Curated Ramadaan Reads for 2019:
Ramadan Around the World by Ndaa Hassan
With over a billion Muslims around the world, I’m surprised it has taken so long for a book like this to get published. In fact, Ndaa Hassan self-published this stunning and most beautifully illustrated hardback that comes with a dust jacket. The first time I read this book, I felt like I was being taken on a global Ramadaan journey and I learnt so many new things about how Ramadaan is celebrated in countries like Mexico, Senegal, Morocco, Turkey (just to name a few). One of the most endearing qualities of this book is the theme of inclusivity – and not just from “lesser-known” countries around the world where Muslims live – but also by including child characters who are autistic, diabetic, have a hearing impairment and one who is confined to a wheelchair. I also love how the author weaves traditions and cuisines into the story. This book is literally a feast of information for both kids and adults with diversity and inclusivity being the underlying themes. In our current era of Islamophobic rhetoric, author Ndaa Hassan, and illustrator Azra Momin, have created a new favourite read – one that will definitely cement a deeper multicultural understanding and enhance tolerance and respect among Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
It’s Ramadan, Curious George by Hena Khan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, USA)
In my household, Curious George holds special memories for us. It was my older son’s favourite cartoon and both my husband and I used to watch with him and we loved the characters. In this book, George, an inquisitive monkey, learns more about fasting and charity during Ramadaan, and celebrating Eid, from his friend Kareem. It is beautifully written in rhyme, in an age-appropriate way. The illustrations are just as wonderful in this sturdy board book with tabbed pages. This is a great book for kids of all religions as it explains the basics of Ramadaan in a simplified manner. A must in every home (and classroom)!
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns – A Muslim Book of Colors by Hena Khan (Chronicle Books, USA)
This book is beautiful and engaging and is aimed at younger readers. The reader learns about various colours from a young Muslim girl. The author seamlessly links each colour to objects/themes that are common in the lives of Muslims – hijab, kufi (topi), prayer rug, Ramadaan, Eid, and so on. The simple rhyming of the text is effective and paired with the bold, unique illustrations, make it a wonderful addition to any child’s book collection.
I Can Make Du’a Anywhere! By Yasmin Ibrahim (The Islamic Foundation, UK)
This simple, brightly illustrated book introduces young ones to the concept of du’a, showing them the various everyday situations when du’a can be made. It is a board book, which means that you can read it to very young kids while allowing them to browse the pages themselves. This is ideal for my toddler who tends to be overzealous when handling his books. I also included it in this list specifically because my little one shows an interest at this stage in raising his hands to make du’a after watching his family do it.
Ilyas & Duck Fantastic Festival Eid al Fitr by Omar S. Khawaja (LBK Books, USA)
Ilyas and Duck are very likeable characters and in this hardback copy with a dust jacket, kids learn more about celebrating Eid al Fitr. The illustrations are bright and very attractive, and the story is written in rhyme. Ilyas is the main character and with his sidekick Duck, who provides comic relief, they learn more about celebrating Eid al Fitr. It really is a wonderful read and even older kids will enjoy it.
Aminah and Aisha’s Eid Gifts by Fawzia Gilani-Williams (Goodword Books, India)
This 24-page illustrated book is aimed at older kids and is an awesome addition to any child’s bookshelf. Aminah and Aisha are two school-going sisters who are preparing to celebrate Eid both in school and at home. The theme of the book centres on being kind, caring, and compassionate towards those who are less fortunate. I really enjoyed the way the life of a typical Muslim family observing Ramadaan is depicted in the story.
I’m Learning About Eid-ul-Fitr by Sayinasnain Khan (Goodword Books, India)
This story shows how siblings, Farah and Faisal, who live in London, celebrate Eid. It is aimed at older children and was first published in 2002, when books for Muslim kids were scarce. The book has a linear storyline with beautiful illustrations, including those of famous mosques around the world, which the author managed to incorporate into the book via the characters.
Al-Ghazali The Book of Knowledge for Children Polishing the Heart (Fons Vitae, USA)
One of the main reasons this book is included in this list is because of the character-building qualities and the development of spirituality among young ones that is encouraged. I find that not too many books for Muslim kids are able to explain the inner dimensions of Islam (which is quite a difficult task to do), and this book does an amazing job by incorporating narratives with interesting, relatable characters. What better month to encourage our kids to develop their character more than in the month of Ramadaan, the month of the Qur’an?
Great Muslim Scholars Series: Ibn Battuta, Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Al-Baitar (Macaw Books, India)
Having just returned home from our interesting holiday to Andalusia, Spain, and Morocco, I selected these 3 non-fiction titles because I wanted my older son to expand his knowledge while memories of visiting these historic places were still fresh in his mind. Ibn Battuta, Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Al-Baitar were just 3 of the 10 people in the Great Muslim Scholars series, who were prolific academics (both in religion and science) during the Islamic Renaissance. These scholars specifically were born/travelled in cities in Spain and Morocco such as Granada, Seville, Tangier, and Fes. Each book is 24 pages and follows the same format of 10 short chapters with illustrations, including a glossary at the end, where the reader learns more about the scholar. These books are suitable for older children and will make a great reference set for school/madressah projects.
1001 Inventions & Awesome Facts from Muslim Civilization (National Geographic Kids, USA)
For the same reason as mentioned above (having recently visited Spain and Morocco), I chose to include this fact book, published by National Geographic Kids. My older son is an avid Nat Geo Kids magazine fan and often rereads his collection of magazines. In keeping with the same line of presenting interesting information to kids, this stunning hardback presents historic information from the Islamic Golden Age. I enjoy reading it myself as well and can easily flip to any page and learn new info about architecture, surgery, medicine, castles, jewellery, maps, and so on. This book is aimed at older kids and is a must-have in every home.
All the above books were bought/gifted to me in the past 6/7 years from the following stockists:
Al Ansaar Book and Media Centre, Durban