Category Archives: Leveled Reader

Stairs Series: Trouble with Babysitting, Allergy Attack, Yusuf’s Robot & Time Travel by Nur Kose illustrated by Shaista Asad and Ayesha Khatib

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Stairs Series: Trouble with Babysitting, Allergy Attack, Yusuf’s Robot & Time Travel by Nur Kose illustrated by Shaista Asad and Ayesha Khatib

stairs series

This set of books claim to be for children ages 8 to 12, but I think they work better for 7 to 10 year olds.  They look like leveled readers, and resemble them in their simple linear story lines.  They are broken up in to chapters, that really are not necessary, but because of the volume of text on each page, allows for a young reader to take a break.  All four books in the series are connected chronologically and contain the same characters.  They more or less present a problem, bring over their friends, have one of the friends offer some advice tied to a hadith or ayat from the Quran, and the advice is tested, and then shared once more.  They are about 20 pages and have activities at the end that range from solving clues to writing paragraphs.  The sentences and vocabulary are about a second grade level, with translations of Arabic and Turkish words, along with references to the Quran and Hadith appearing in the footnotes on the page they are mentioned on.

stairs series characters

The best part of the books is that they are written by an 8th Grader, mashaAllah.  I think they teach a lesson in a simple way, and while not terribly suspenseful or comical, they do succeed in showing Islamic lessons in relatable situations for kids.  Some of the details seem excesses or meandering, but again, the fact that it is written by a kid, will inspire readers to listen differently to lessons about patience, accepting Allah’s will, recognizing one’s own limitations, and putting Allah (swt) above all else.

stairs inside

The pictures are colorful and simple.  They appear every few pages in the book and provide a nice break from the text.  They are sweet and not detailed, but sufficient for the story and level.

stairs pictute

The Lost Ring: An Eid Story by Fawzia Gilani-Williams illustrated by Kulthum Burgess

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The Lost Ring.jpg

This is a good little story about Eid ul-Adha for 2nd through 4th graders.  It is not AR and at 29 pages it balances information about Islam and Eid with a simple little story that keeps the target demographic interested.  It isn’t great, but for a book that would probably be a level reader equivalent of a three, it suffices in being a bit of a mystery, a bit of a comedy, and bit of a lesson on why and how we celebrate Eid.

Rahma’s Grandma and cousin, Muslimah, are visiting for Eid. The girls start off the story trying on their beautiful dresses and feeling like princesses.  The girls and Grandma then get to work on making samosas for Eid.  Rahma sees her grandmother’s ring next to the bowl of dough and tries it on. The story moves fluidly and the girls take turns helping  with the folding of the samosas.  Some more adults come in and add tidbits to the story about giving gifts on Eid and getting ready for Salat and depicting a typical practicing family.

The story shifts to dad asking the kids what they remember about Eid-ul-Adha and what they know about Eid-ul-Fitr, the Festival of Sacrifice. On the day of Arafat the children fast, visit the hospital and take gifts to people in the community and the neighbors.  After Salat-ul-Maghrib dad reviews some of the sunnah acts for Eid as well.  It doesn’t get too preachy, or overly detailed, it is more highlights and brief summary revisions.

Eid day is fun and exciting, but when night falls and the family prepares for people to come over, Grandma can’t find her ring.  The kids want to be detectives, but Rahma suddenly realizes that the ring must be IN one of the samosas. So the children decide to eat them all to check. When the ring doesn’t turn up, Rahma and her cousins recite Ayat-ul Kursi, ask Allah for help and decide to tell Grandma the truth.  Just then Mum yells and the ring is found in her samosa, the truth is revealed and they all enjoy a good laugh and resolve to “always remember this as the Samosa Eid.”

The Lost Ring inside

There is a lot of text on the page, and a fair amount of “foreign” words that I think the book is probably meant for Muslim children, or those familiar with the basics of Eid.  There is a Glossary in the back, but it still might be a bit too much for non Muslim children to grasp without someone to answer their questions. The illustrations have the elder females with hijab and the girls uncovered when not praying.  The small pictures are detailed and complimentary, but the younger readers will wish they were a bit more engaging.  Overall, a good book to have in a classroom, and a great one to check out from the library to encourage young readers, or just to enjoy before Eid-ul-Adha.

Max Celebrates Ramadan by Adria F. Worsham illustrated b y Mernie Gallagher-Cole

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Max Celebrates Ramadan

Max is a character in a series of leveled readers that explores familiar topics to build reading confidence (Max Goes to the Doctor, Max Goes to School, etc.), and introduces new ideas as the reader’s skills build (Max Celebrates Cinco de Mayo, Max Learns Sign Language, etc.).  I love that Ramadan was included and this 24 page AR 2.0 book is spot on, in what a new reader can handle without getting frustrated or bored in terms of content, and ability.

max

Max goes to his friend Omar’s house to celebrate Ramadan.  He learns a little about the month, what the Quran is and about Eid al Fitr too.  The foreign words are explained in the text and there is no explanation of belief or doctrine.  There are just simplified, age appropriate, descriptions of what a Muslim does and what you might see during Ramadan.  Very level appropriate for Muslim and non Muslim children.  Omar’s family is inviting and kind, and the illustrations show them to probably be of Indian decent as the mother and other females are wearing saris.  None of the women cover, but the males all wear kufis.max1

The book doesn’t stand out in any way, but most leveled readers, in my opinion, don’t.  If you have young readers check and see if your library has the book, the kids will enjoy it.  It works ok in small groups, but not for story time so well, as it is rather repetitive in a dry, not predictive way.  If you are a kindergarten through 3rd grade teacher, I think this book would be a great addition to your book shelf, as well as the others in the series as a way to learn about other people in an independent way.  My son going in to first grade read it by himself fluently and enjoyed the pictures.  Someone new to the concept of Ramadan, i think, would also be able to grasp the concepts without much outside help.