Ramadan By Suhaib Hamid Ghazi Illustrated by Omar Rayyan

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ramadan

I remember when my parents first acquired this book (maybe they ordered it or it was a gift, I’m not sure), in 1996 there weren’t a lot of Islamic picture books to choose from and I took it to Sunday school to share with my students.  My preschool class loved the pictures, but the text was way over their heads and I had to summarize it to keep their focus.  Nearly twenty years later, there are a lot more options, yet the illustrations of this beautiful book are still mesmerizing to children, and the text is still too lengthy, factual, and complex to engage most children under 10 years old.

Hakeem, the main character in the book, explains not only Ramadan and fasting in detail, but also the basic tenets of Islam, words in Arabic with English descriptions, and makes numerous comparisons to other religions.  Everything is tastefully done, and probably was written to appeal to both Muslim and non Muslim children, allowing the reader to identify with Islam through whatever background they come from.  The result, unfortunately, results in a book with very little “story” and a whole lot of information.  It reads like a research paper on Islam, with a fictional boy thrown in to tell it in a simple way.  However, it isn’t a child’s voice speaking, and if the pictures weren’t so wonderfully done, no child would be at all tempted by the book.

That being said, if you have multiple aged children in your family, it works well to let the little ones look at the pictures while you “tell” them about Ramadan, and later letting the older ones build on their knowledge of Islam and Ramadan.  It doesn’t lend well to story time or larger groups in my experience, but could be a way to share information on Islam to curious adults, new converts, or young adults looking for the basics without being consumed by a text book.

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