Category Archives: How-To

Zaynab and Zakariya Learn to Recycle by Fehmida Ibrahim Shah

Zaynab and Zakariya Learn to Recycle by Fehmida Ibrahim Shah


I’ve seen a few other environmentally inclined children’s books in Islamic School libraries over the years, but this one is one of the better ones in terms of its comprehensive thoroughness, proactive nature and presentation. 

Zaynab and Zakariya help each other learn about recycling paper, tin, glass, and then reach out to their parents at the library to learn exactly how recycling works, what happens to trash, and how they can do their part to help the Earth.  I like that the kids, don’t just drop a few items in a bin, flip off a light, and turn off the water, they actually help their mom start to compost, they seek out items made from recycled materials at a store to purchase, and learn about catching rainwater with their father.  The text is a bit heavy and is probably more suited for at least 1st grade and up if read in a group setting, younger kids would enjoy it in bits and pieces, and would absolutely benefit if some hands on activities could be incorporated.  

The book is 28 pages, sturdily bound and has a glossary of terms in the back.  The book is small, about 9×9 and the pictures feature no faces.  The story line is framed in an Islamic context and Quranic verses are highlighted and mentioned in the story.




I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien

I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien


Three new kids, not just at school, but to America as well. Maria is from Guatemala, Jin from Korea, and Fatimah from Somalia.  All three telling about what they are faced with as they settle in to their new life and routine, and all tell a bit about how things were back home.  FullSizeRender (48)

This book is not entertaining or fun, it is educational.  Written for ages 5-8 this book is very straightforward as the three characters stories are interwoven to show the growth and settling in that they experience.  The simple sentences, allow the reader to learn real, tangible ways that this children are finding the transition hard.  It also alleviates any sense of pity as it shows the full lives they had before coming to America. 

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I love that the other kids in the class are involved in real life ways to help welcome the new kids to class. Sometimes we are harsh on kids that don’t show empathy or compassion, forgetting that often they don’t know how.  This book works for adults and children in all situations.  We all need to put ourselves in other peoples shoes and see what struggles they are facing, we all need to help one another, and we all need to facilitate environments where these actions can take place.

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The book in many ways would fit well with One Green Apple, as it gives the perspective from the character who is new and articulates some of the obstacles they are facing, while also showing the interactions that help one to feel welcome and comfortable.

The pictures are crucial to the story as they show the feelings of the children and give context to the simple storyline.  I love that their is so much additional diversity in the illustrations: children of all body shapes, there is a student in a wheel chair, Fatimah wears a hijab, and there are male and female teachers in the book.

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The Author’s Note at the end of the 32 page story tells of her experience as a white American child living in South Korea, and some of her feelings and thoughts of being in a new country.  There is no mention of Islam, just implies Fatimah is a Muslim based on her dress, her mother’s clothing, and her country of origin.  

How to Get Hijab Ready: A Guide for Muslim Girls Ages 8 to 11 by Aisha Elwan & Megan Wyatt illustrated by Sarah Hafeez



Yes I know it isn’t fiction, but How to Get Hijab Ready is such a fabulous and much needed book that any positive attention I can direct toward it, I feel is effort well spent, Alhumdulillah.  The book is obviously meant for 8 to 11 year old girls contemplating hijab.  The beauty of this how-to book is that it answers everything from how to accessorize one’s hijab to dealing with bullies in a beautiful manner.  Not only are the pictures bright and colorful, but the presentation is clear, precise and inspiring.  The authors do not talk down to the readers, nor do they make it seem like a burden as they discuss hadith, ayats from the Qur’an, challenges and fashion sense.  The book is divided into sections: The Basics, Getting Started, Having Conversations,  Worries and Concerns, and finally Your Reward for Good Deeds. Each section addresses different topics and “Aisha’s Tips” are scattered throughout to give 12-and-a-half-year-old Aisha’s tips on the subject at hand.


Truly this book is a gift to moms and daughters alike.  I plan to let my daughter look through it for a few days and then sit down with her to discuss.  It functions as both a how-to manual as well as a reference guide and I can see it being looked at A LOT.  Additionally I can see my daughter discussing it with both Muslim and non-Muslim peers.  I think the book offers confidence, direction, and pride as young girls will find inspiration from young Aisha while having many of their concerns about hijab answered in a fun, hip way.

My only criticism is that it wasn’t around when I was a young girl.  For some hijab is an unknown, for some it is a stress, and for some it is a natural expression of faith, and subhanAllah this book in just 51 colorful pages manages to convey information, smiles, and excitement irregardless of your background.