Category Archives: Board Book

The Prayer to the Merciful for Little Ones by Saniyasnain Khan illustrated by Bindia Thapar

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The Prayer to the Merciful for Little Ones by Saniyasnain Khan illustrated by Bindia Thapar

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This 14 page board book is a prayer based on Surah Fatiha and explores the first few ayats with reflective and thoughtful duas.  It has soft muted illustrations of birds and nature on small 5 by 5 pages.  The idea of the book is sweet and soft that I can imagine reading it with a child in your lap after salat, or perhaps whispering into them at bedtime, but it really is a prayer for the parents to read.  Children might understand from the text that everything is from Allah swt and He is always with us and helps us, but because it doesn’t repeat those notions, I don’t think the message will stick. The vocabulary is not reflective of toddlers understanding, and really the comfort comes from them listening to a loved one’s voice not the text or pictures.  I have five kids, this book was purchased when I was pregnant with the first one, I don’t think it has ever willingly been picked up by any of them or sat through in the idyllic picturesque manner that a person with no children would imagine spawning from such a heartfelt book.  I hope I’m in the minority and other families have loved and appreciated this book as it was undoubtedly intended.

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The book starts with a complete english translation of Surah al Fatiha.  The next two page spread is entitled “Praise be to Allah” which is explored in the text of praising Allah for the blessing given and knowledge of Allah being close. The theme isn’t entirely on point, but follows the rhythm of duas: praising Allah swt and glorifying him mixed in with making your requests.

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“Lord of the Universe” is the next heading, followed by “The Compassionate, the Merciful,” “Master of the Day of Judgement,” “You alone we worship and to You alone we turn for help.”  The final section is “Guide us to the straight path.”

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The book came out in 2003, and I was ecstatic to see it available, however, there are now just better and more varied options available, that this one will once again be lost on my shelves.

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Baby’s First Ramadan by Clare Lloyd design and illustrations by Eleanor Bates

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Baby’s First Ramadan by Clare Lloyd design and illustrations by Eleanor Bates

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I was excited to see publishing company DK add this Ramadan book to their board book selection, but overall it didn’t wow me, or even really impress me.  It has realistic pictures of diverse Muslims celebrating Ramadan, simple text, and bright images, but it read awkward as it switched between first and third person, realistic and stock looking images, and not terribly enticing with slightly faded mehndi and unexplained foods.  There are better board books out there for babies and toddlers than this 12 page mainstream published one.  If you can find it at the library, sure check it out, but I’d save my money on purchasing it.

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The book starts out saying Muslims follow Islam and Ramadan is a special month in Islam.  It features a a man holding a little girl and both are people of color.  The opposite page is a cartoonish crescent moon saying it is the start of Ramadan.

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The next page has a plate of realistic deviled eggs on a bright background stating that many Muslims fast, don’t eat from sunrise to sunset.  It also states that the meal before dawn is called suhoor or sehri.  I’m not sure why Urdu is included with the traditional Arabic and no other languages are mentioned.

The next page then shows a little girl praying and switches to present tense first person and says “Let’s pray…” followed by a little boy reading Quran and stating that reading Quran helps us learn about Islam.  It then switches back to declarative 3rd person saying that people break their fasts before sunset prayers and shows a bowl of dates.

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A family is then shown breaking their fast with a meal known as iftar and the reader is urged to pick their favorite sweet to eat from a plate of different shaped baklava.  There is no description about the baklava and I don’t know how enticing they would be if you have never tasted it before.

The book concludes with the same cartoonish night sky and silhouetted masjids saying the crescent has been seen, Ramadan is over and tomorrow is Eid.  The last page is a girls hand saying , “Let’s celebrate Eid by making henna patterns on our hands.”

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I think the idea is good, but I feel like it doesn’t answer many questions about Ramadan and Muslims and probably makes the religion and celebrations seem foreign and odd, presumably the opposite effect.  I admittedly haven’t read the other holiday books in the series and am not a baby expert, so perhaps I’m really critical and missing the developmental reasoning behind the presentation.  But I don’t know that this book is fun or really informative for any age, it just seems random.

My First Book About Allah: Teachings for Toddlers and Young Children by Sara Khan illustrated by Ali Lodge

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My First Book About Allah: Teachings for Toddlers and Young Children by Sara Khan illustrated by Ali Lodge

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This 26 page non fiction sturdy board book packs in a lot of information in a really simple way that will keep little one’s attention and hopefully encourage them to ask deeper questions as they grow.  The illustrations are soft and alternate between detailed familiar scenes and simple background style scenes that draw attention to the text on the page. It covers the Shahadah, who Allah (swt) is, it mentions that He has 99 names,  that He sent us the Quran and the final messenger is Prophet Muhammad (saw).  The book at times is wordy, and perhaps the vocabulary a bit above a toddlers level, but the flow is smooth and the tone is warm, inviting, and is requested often by my little ones. (It is reasonably priced by at small bookstores, and double the price on Amazon).

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The book starts off by stating that Muslims believe that there is only one God and His name is Allah.  It shows it in Arabic as well on a very muted background.  The next page is much more lively with illustrations showing someone pray, a picture of the ka’aba, a family eating, and a mother reading Quran and making dua.

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The family is then depicted gathered together with the little children asking “WHO is Allah?” and the book dedicating the next few pages to explaining that Allah swt, is the One who made everything and has power over all. He makes the sun rise and set and everything in the heavens and the earth belong to Him.

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The book explains that Allah even loves us more than our own parents before explaining that Allah has 99 names and Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim are the ones we hear the most.  The background has many of the names of Allah written in Arabic.

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The family prays knowing Allah is All Hearing and All Seeing.  An illustration of a cave with a bird and spiderweb accompany the page that tells us that He sent us the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad (saw) to show us how to live. InshaAllah if we do as we are supposed to, we are promised paradise and Allah never breaks His promise.

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The book concludes with Facts about Allah and Questions about Allah (swt). The pages are glossy and 6 x 8 in size.

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Five Pillars Just to Please Allah by Rabia Bashir and Amir Al-Zubi

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Five Pillars Just to Please Allah by Rabia Bashir and Amir Al-Zubi

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This adorable 8×8 board book for little Muslims is perfect for toddlers to Kindergarteners.  My one year old loves toting it around and looking at the pictures, while my 5 year old likes reading the book independently and lifting the flaps at the end to quiz himself.  I’m normally really against liftable flaps in board books, but thus far my little one hasn’t ripped them all off, so I’ll spare y’all my repetitive rant.

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The 10 pages of text are perfect to identify the five pillars to the tune of “Row, row, row, your boat” and get little ones familiar with the terms.  The illustrations give older kids something to discuss as they show diversity, the pillars in action and are bright, glossy, and engaging.

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The publisher’s website seems to have changed, it was preciousbees.com but now seems to be bismillahbees.com and song of the book can be found here: https://youtu.be/F2hHvDFSVz8

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I got my copy from Crescent Moon Store and can’t speak highly enough of their great customer service and selection.  

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The flaps at the end are fairly small which inshaAllah will extend their life.

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We are Muslim, Al-Hamdu Lillah! by Kathy Fannoun

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We are Muslim, Al-Hamdu Lillah! by Kathy Fannoun

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In digging through and pulling out board books for my nine month old to chew on, I realized I never reviewed this staple.  Published in 1994, this 16 page 4 x 5 book does a good job in rhyming verse discussing the universal bond of Islam for our littlest ones.

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It starts out by stating that we are children form many different nations, and are different shapes and sizes, but that Allah swt created us all.

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It reminds us that even though our words are different, and some of us are rich and others poor, we still enjoy God’s gifts and love our families, because in the end we all praise Allah, and are Muslims, Al-Hamdu Lillah!

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The illustrations are clearly hand drawn and filled in with colored pencils, but they show diverse skin tones, a few different ethnic dresses, some in hijab and kufis, others not, and all smiling.

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This book is basic, which makes it perfect for little ones at bedtime and even in small groups.  Younger children appreciate the simple message and rhyme scheme and it is the perfect size in their hands.

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This book is probably bringing back memories for many of you, as it was one of the first books of its kind.  A board book, that is Islamic, cute and fun, for English readers. I remember in high school reading it to my Sunday school preschool class at the masjid, sharing it at story times at the masjid as an adult, and reading it to my own kids over the years.  The binding is still holding strong, and the words still remind me how blessed I am to be s Muslim, Al-Hamdu-Lillah!

Allah is Al Khaliq (The Creator) by Saba Ghazi Ameen

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Allah is Al Khaliq (The Creator) by Saba Ghazi Ameen

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This is one of the first books I got for my first unborn child nearly 14 years ago, and as I am now on my fifth child I only recently realized (thanks @Taleswithmimi) that I have never reviewed this beloved sturdy 10 page 6 x 4.5 inch board book.

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It starts by declaring and defining that Allah is Al-Khaliq, the Creator of all I see, it then, in rhyming verse lists some of Allah’s gifts as organized by colors.

Red, green, blue, yellow, orange, purple, white, pink and black, are presented in a fun, and playful way on two page spreads.  The fun illustrations and bright colors are well done and perfect size for little ones to take in.

The book was published in 2002 and is still relevant today.  I highly suggest it for toddlers to chew on and learn their colors from in an Islamic context.  That being said, any religious kids would be fine with the book, while it is Islamic fiction, any faith that acknowledges the Oness of a Creator, will not find anything more religion-specific in the book.

I love that there are tabs on the side to show the colors, and that there are NO FLAPS!  It’s companion book that goes over shapes in a similarly beautiful, Allah is Ar-Rahman (the Compassionate) but there are flaps.  Thin ones at that. Needless to say they were damaged or gone within days and four of my kids have never enjoyed them!

I Say Bismillah by Noon H. Dee Iput translated by Shera Diva Sihbudi

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I Say Bismillah by Noon H. Dee Iput translated by Shera Diva Sihbudi

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Another adorable board book teaching the concept of saying Bismillah to the littlest Muslims. The illustrations are really sweet, and the text large and playful on their 5.5 square pages.  The story is simple, but because there is a story, and the word repeated, it does just what it intends to do and shows Bismillah being said before you start something.  It is worth noting though, that it never articulates why you say it.

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In this 20 page story brother and sister, Nabil and Noura are about to eat some yummy cupcakes.  Noura forgets to say Bismillah and her brother Nabil reminds her.  They both say Bismillah and then Noura says it before she drinks her milk.  Proud of herself for remembering, Nabil praises her as well, and they both head off to play after saying Bismillah again.

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I like that the siblings encourage each other and no one gets in “trouble” for not saying it, but rather they are gentle in their approach and it comes not from a parent or authority figure but from one another.

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There are a few “games” sprinkled in on two of the pages: say the colors of the cupcakes, count the cups.  There is also the word Bismillah written in Arabic at the end along with the English transliteration, English meaning and two questions: can you say Bismillah, and when do you say it, to verify comprehension.

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Thanks once again to Crescent Moon Store (www.crescentmoonstore.com) for their fast and friendly service and great prices.  There are four books in the series and they carry them all.

The ABC of Allah Loves Me by Learning Roots

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You really wouldn’t think there is much to review in an alphabet board book, but this particular one tries to do more than just pluck a random Islamic word or concept for each of the 26 English letters.  It attempts to give each of the letters one of Allah (swt)’s beautiful names explained in English, but written in Arabic too.

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Each 5 x 10 page features a four line description in a rhyming format to flesh out the highlighted word or phrase.

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Some letter to corresponding Asma al Husna are spot on, but some are a little more of a stretch and some don’t even seem to try.  Overall though it is well-done and delightful.

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The people illustrated don’t have visible eyes, but many have smiles, noses, or closed eyes.  They are bright and warm and engaging.  The binding and thickness of the pages is sturdy.

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Perhaps my favorite part of the book is that the while the rhyming is forced, as is nearly always the case in these type of books, the diction stays on level.  Little kids will understand the words used and emerging readers will be able to sound out and read many on their own as well.

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A great book for your toddler to preschool collection and a reasonably priced book from Crescent Moon Store http://www.crescentmoonstore.com.

Musa & Friends Do Ramadan by Zanib Mian illustrated by Daniel Hills

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Musa & Friends Do Ramadan by Zanib Mian illustrated by Daniel Hills

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Zanib Mian has really set the standard for quality affordable children’s Islamic books title after title.  So, I really was on pins and needles waiting for these Musa & Friends board books, and then I got one (thank you Crescent Moon Store) and part of me is really disappointed, and part of me is wondering what I’m missing.

They are at cheapest $8 a book, and there are 8 pages.  Yes, the binding and page thickness is awesome, and the 5.5 square size is adorable in a toddler’s hands, but I guess I wanted more.  More pages, more feeling or tone of Ramadan, a little more substance.

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The illustrations are super fun and Zanib Mian has a history of writing toddler and preschool appropriate books, so needless to say I was surprised that I didn’t love this book.  Granted I’ve only seen the Ramadan book, and maybe the others in the series are much more satisfying, or maybe when you have all four together, they round each other out, which I’m really hoping is the case.

The text amount per page is great for littles, but the content is rather random in my opinion. They little diverse family and their penguin love Ramadan, they go to the masjid for taraweeh, they wake up for suhoor, they read Quran, they give money to the poor, they eat too much iftar and they love eid.

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The book is meant for Muslim children as no details are given about what iftar or suhoor mean or that Ramadan involves fasting.  The illustrations won’t help much either in explaining the terms or even teaching concepts as the page on giving to charity has Musa and Penguin putting money in a jar, Musa’s dad is reading Quran, even though the text says, “Well done, Musa,” and even the penguin says “Gobble, gobble, gobble,” when eating(?).

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The books are cute and if you aren’t overly critical and you receive the book as a gift you will probably be very happy.  I just expected more and after the smallness of size of “A Young Muslim’s Mindful Book of Wellbeing” combined with the shortness of these books, I won’t just blindly order a bunch of Muslim Children’s Books without considering if they are worth it anymore, which makes me sad.

 

R is for Ramadan by Greg Paprocki

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R is for Ramadan by Greg Paprocki

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This book is fabulously fun, but incredibly puzzling.  The book without a glossary is presumably meant for Muslim children, with words like U is for Umrah and T is for Tasbeeh, and N is for Night of Power.  Which is interesting, because it seems to be written by a non Muslim, who writes and illustrates a lot of various alphabet books, and published by a mainstream company.  I’m sure this adorable book will appeal  to many non Muslims but after reading it, I’m fairly certain they will be 80% clueless as to what most of the letters are about.   Maybe they would be able to make a guess based on the pictures, but with the pronunciation for Arabic words being given underneath, it sure makes for an odd juxtaposition in a toddler board book.

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Additionally, if you are Muslim reading the book and can describe the Arabic to your 3-5 year old, you will possibly have to explain some of the “big” English words too.  H is for Hospitality, G is for Generous, O is for Obligation.

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Thrown in are also some completely silly, random letter prompts.  W is for Watermelon and Y is for Yay.  So, I probably shouldn’t like this book, but it is an absolute delight to look at and read through if you can account for all the aforementioned things.

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The illustrations are engaging and detailed and oh so happy and fun.  The book feels good in your hands reading it with a little one snuggled up beside you at 8.5 x 6.5 and 32 thick pages long. 

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I guess I can’t offer a finalized opinion on the book, just know what it includes (or doesn’t include) before you buy.  I was able to check it out at my public library, and online it is just under $10, so hopefully people won’t be disappointed with the purchase, if nothing else for the pictures alone.  But maybe don’t get excited to send it off to non Muslim friends and family this Ramadan, as it might not offer much in terms of understanding what the blessed month is all about.

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