Friday Five: Ramadan

Ramadan started on June 5th and because of a very cool book and set we’ve been celebrating it. 

Ramadan Date Palm1. The Ramadan Date Palm written by Fatemeh Mashouf, illustrated by Vera Pavlova

This is the book that started it all, so to speak. Through one of my best friends I saw a crowd funding project for a book, stuffed toy, activity cards, and plate set that was intended to foster pride in Muslim children as well as excitement around Ramadan (i.e. not Christmas, watch their story here, you’ll see what she means). When the box arrived on our doorstep Cam was intrigued. After reading the book she asked to read it all over again right away. Then she started asking when Ramadan would start so we could do the cards and celebrate. The book is darling and while intended for Muslim kids would mostly make sense to kids of any faith. It does a good job of explaining what the holiday is and what it means for Muslims. For more on the story read my full review over on my library blog. You can hear the full story on their website as well as order a copy/set for yourself.

Under the Ramadan Moon2. Under the Ramadan Moon written by Sylvia Whitman, illustrated by Sue Williams

This makes the perfect bedtime story during Ramadan. It has simple rhythmic text and gentle pictures. It isn’t very long or involved either which makes it good for winding down or for sharing with young children. While it does give a bit of information on Ramadan, it’s not really intended to teach about the holiday. There isn’t a story here per se, but it does celebrate all the fun things that go on during the month. 

 

Party in Ramadan3. A Party in Ramadan written by Asma Mobin-Uddin, illustrated by Laura Jacobsen

This book is a bit longer and might be better suited to slightly older children (although Cam enjoyed it).  Leena decides to attend a birthday party on the day she is fasting for the first time. At first she thinks it will be no problem, but as the party wears on and she runs around and sees chocolate cake, Leena isn’t so sure going to the party was such a good idea. The ending is very sweet as Leena has a conversation with her dad about how hard fasting can be. And it turns out her friends have saved her some cake and they drop by to share it after the fast has been broken. For older children this may be a familiar story, but it celebrates Leena’s accomplishment and strength in sticking with her fast despite the tempting chocolate frosting. 

Nabeel4. Nabeel’s New Pants: An Eid Tale retold by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, illustrated by Proiti Roy

This story is just plain funny. Nabeel, while out buying Eid presents for his family, buys himself a new pair of pants. But there isn’t time to have the tailor hem them up. Nabeel goes around to his wife, mother and daughter handing out gifts and asking for help with his pants, but no one has time. They’re too busy making food for Eid. Finally Nabeel goes home and does the sewing himself. Feeling guilty, though, each woman sneaks over and hems Nabeel’s pants up a little more. A well-timed page turn reveals Nabeel in his new shorts! Oops. Fortunately they have saved the fabric scraps and are able to repair his pants. The text is a bit long, but so much of it repeats that it doesn’t feel long. It also gives kids the chance to jump in and say it along with you. I think this ties in with the idea from Rafiq and Friends that Ramadan should be fun for children and this will certainly help bring an element of humor! 

Ramadan Moon5. Ramadan Moon written by Na’ima B Robert, illustrated by Shirin Adi 

 Another sweet book that celebrates all the fun things that happen during Ramadan. I absolutely love the illustrations in this one. They are made with different types of paper and fabric, plus some pen and ink details. They are so arresting. I also appreciated that this book is set in Iran with an Iranian family. A lot of the books about Muslims feature Arab characters and it isn’t only Arabs who are Muslim. The story is a little longer than Under the Ramadan Moon, but is similar in content so if you have a slightly older child this might be a better fit. 

 

 Please note, there are other lists out there of Ramadan books. Many of them are fine lists. The books I have listed here, however, are appropriate both for Muslims children and non-Muslim children, meaning they don’t over explain the faith. Books with lots of extra information and definitions are not meant for Muslim kids, they’re books to help non-Muslims understand and I didn’t want a list like that. The other thing to be aware of is that at the end of Ramadan there is an Eid. Eid simply means holiday or celebration in Arabic, but the full name for Eid after Ramadan is Eid al-Fitr. There is a second Eid, Eid al-Adha which is the time when many Muslims make hajj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca. I have noticed that there are a couple books about hajj and Eid al-Adha that have been lumped, I suspect unknowingly, into Ramadan book lists. This indicates that the person making the list wasn’t especially clear on Islam. Am I saying I know all there is to know? No, not at all. Is exposure to books about Eid al-Adha a bad thing? No, but it kind of alienates Muslim kids who would know the difference. I tried to be sensitive in this list by adding books that Muslim kids can enjoy as much as their non-Muslim friends. 

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