Harris J’s song by the same name gets stuck in my head because it seems like “Salam Alaikum,” is the only words in the song, so when I heard that he had written a book based on the lyrics, I was a little skeptical. But, total credit to the illustrator, the book is adorable, and the lyrics aren’t too bad either.
Thirty big pages, that radiate with light and happy faces and a big clear font that celebrates peace, love, and coming together. The words “Salam Alaikum” is a Muslim greeting, but there is nothing overtly religious. There is one muhajaba that appears on a few pages, but with the content matter, there is a lot of diversity in the book. A variety of skin tones, ages, clothing, genders, sizes, all come together to hold hands and work for peace.
The content isn’t ground breaking, but the number of words on the page are good for 3-6 year olds. And it does introduce that the world is more fun when we all work together and are kind. Kids will like the illustrations and return for them undoubtedly. It is hard to know if the books these days are truly better, or are just done better. But, while I checked this one out from the library, I think I just might want a copy of my own.
Another factual Ramadan book, with a fictional storyline that utilizes the banter between children and their parents to teach the reader about the blessed month. Not a unique or original storyline, but somehow it still manages to be cute. The book has very little doctrine discussed, and more hands on action of charity, visiting other families for iftar, and taking treats to non muslim neighbors as the focus of the book.
Hassan and Aneesa are young, and the book is similarly written for young kids. The back of the book says 2 and up, and the short declarative sentences definitely work for younger children. The pictures are warm as the characters are smily and detailed, but not overwhelmingly so. At home the mom does not cover, but does when she is out, as does the little girl. The family is depicted as warm and affectionate to one another and I love that they visit a non-muslim-sounding-named neighbor and are rewarded with a non “ethnic” treat of chocolate cake. I also like that the kids are encouraged to fast for parts of the day, even if it is the second half of the day. The book appeals to today’s children who may at times chose “ethnic” food and clothes and sometimes not. The book is small in size at 6.5 by 7.5 inches and is 24 pages with a glossary in the back. It is for pre-school kids and while it might work for non-muslims, I think for the age group, if a child didn’t know a Muslim at least, the book would be a bit hard to grasp.
Hassan and Aneesa are excited as mom and dad tell them Ramadan starts tomorrow, but a confused Aneesa sneaks downstairs and suhoor time wondering why her parents are eating breakfast in the middle of the night. The next day they read Quran and gather up toys to take to the thrift store. While there Aneesa donates some money too. As they leave they are invited to an Aunt’s house for iftar. After iftar they have to rush to Tarawih at the masjid. That night Aneesa and her mom discuss why Muslim’s fast in an age appropriate manner, and the two kids decide they want to try, even though they don’t have to yet.
The next day the fasting kids cook enough dinner to share with their neighbor Mrs. Smith. Aneesa breaks her fast early, but Hassan hangs in there, and all are rewarded with a surprise chocolate cake from dad!