Tag Archives: fasting

Drummer Girl by Hiba Masood illustrated by Hoda Hadadi

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Drummer Girl by Hiba Masood illustrated by Hoda Hadadi

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Before she was Grandma Najma, she was just Najma.  A girl in Turkey with a secret dream of being a musaharati, the person who walks the streets waking up the neighbors for suhoor in Ramadan.  But, a girl had never done this and thus the dream stayed hidden until she was 12 and the neighborhood musaharati was feeling ill.  Confiding in her baba, his love and support makes her dream come true against cultural norms and naysayers.  The line from her Baba, “Girls can be anything they like,” is so clear that her one girl revolution grabs the hearts of the reader and turns readers into cheerleaders.  The added beauty is her father’s support is not limited to his words, he accompanies her out every night almost challenging anyone to say she can’t do it.  Overtime she becomes the pride of the area, and her brothers accompany her if she doesn’t want to go alone, and then eventually her husband and her children.

drumemrgirl2The book warms the soul and uplifts the spirit.  The text seems geared to 7 year olds and up, as there is a lot of it, and at 26 pages does require some ability to focus. But with minor tweaks and condenscing the story appeals to children 4 and up and the pictures help hold their attention as they create a mood of wonder and whimsy.

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Structurally the book is hardback and dust jacket free, yay! the cover is printed on and thus easier to maintain.  The book is longer horizontally with most illustrations on the left side making it great for story time where the kids can see the pictures and the reader can hold and easily see the text without blocking the children’s line of sight.  There is a glossary, an author’s note telling where the story comes from, and a little biography of the author and illustrator and publisher in the back.

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A beautiful, beautiful book to share with children this Ramadan and all year long, alhumdulillah.

Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi illustrated by Lea Lyon

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Lailah's Lunchbox

Another standout in a crowded field of Ramadan picture books, mashaAllah, Lailah’s Lunchbox works well even outside of Ramadan for Muslim and Muslim children alike.  In 32 pages, the reader gets to know Lailah and understand how hard it has been for her to move to America from Abu Dhabi, make new friends, how nerovus she is to be identified as different, as well as how excited she is that her mother has finally agreed to let her fast this Ramadan.

Lailah is excited to wake up and have sehri with her family before heading to her new school, fasting for the first time.  Her mother has written a note for her teacher, but on the bus, Lailah reads the note and suddenly worries if her teacher will even know what Ramadan is ,and decides not to give it to her teacher.  Lunchtime arrives, and when the teacher asks Lailah if she forgot her lunch, her voice fails her, and her classmates offer to share their lunch with her.  Lailah decides to leave the cafeteria and finds herself in the library spilling all her worries and stresses and fears to a kind librarian.  (Yes the librarian is the hero, and really no one should be surprised, right!?) With the librarian’s urging and Lailah’s determination, she writes a note to the teacher explaining that she is Muslim, and fasting, and even includes a poem.  She leaves the note on her teacher’s desk at the end of the day.  The following day, the teacher has written her back and the reader, along with Lailah, know that having courage and staying true to one’s self can often be scary, but also wonderful too.

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While the story is billed a Ramadan Story, it really just is the back drop for a lot of really good messages.  I think 2nd and 3rd graders to early middle schoolers could really benefit from the book.  It is semi autobiographical and I think the authenticity of the emotion woven in, makes the book very relatable and powerful.  I plan to discuss it with my daughter going in to 5th grade, who is also a bit shy on occasion: the way Lailah worked out the problem, the way she found someone to trust and talk to that was patient with her, to point out to her that the kids in her class were very kind and that most of her fear and anxiety was with herself, not them.  I also really like the message that she was so excited to fast, and how her nerves took that excitement away, but having the courage to face her fear, brought back her happiness and enthusiasm.

The end of the book has an Author’s note, telling how the story came about and a bit more about Ramadan. It also tells the definition of Sehri and Iftar, the only two “foreign” words in the book.  I found it interesting that the word Sehri, an Urdu word, was used instead of Suhoor, if they are coming from Abu Dhabi, but perhaps the author is of subcontinent heritage.  The illustrations are colorful and realistic, complementing the story and tying in the range of emotions and events Lailah is experiencing.

I was pleasantly surprised at the book, and even more excited to see that it is available in the public library system.  Here is the link to the author’s blog I hope she plans to write more, as her style and message resonate with Muslim American kids, and their parents, alhumdulillah.

 

A Party in Ramadan By Asma Mobin-Uddin Illustrated by Laura Jacobsen

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This is a great book that works on a variety of levels.  Leena is fasting the whole day for the first time, but is also invited to a friends party.  Her mom gives her the choice to fast or not as it is not yet mandatory at her age, and she decides to fast AND go to the party.  The story takes you through the activities of the party and how some parts are easy and some harder for the fasting Leena.  The end has a wonderful surprise for both Leena and the reader as the author gives us all reason to hope that respect among friends exists, and that in fact one can stay true to their beliefs and have support from their friends.

This book is  great conversation starter for older kids who maybe have tried to fast and felt the temptations of day-to-day life in a non -Islamic environment.  With an AR level of 4.2 and 34 pages the story is strong enough to hold a fourth graders attention and get them to analyze what they would do in a similar situation.  Although the book is about Ramadan and some facets about how fasting is done, what it means, and why Muslims do it, are sprinkled in, the story isn’t overly religious in nature.  The characters are simply Muslim, they pray, they thank Allah, they wear hijab, they make duaas and they also go to friend’s parties. I think non-Muslims would benefit from this book and see the beauty of diversity as Leena and her friends support one another.  The pictures also do a wonderful job of depicting the story: the characters are warm and happy, some cover some do not, they eat chocolate pudding and Baklava and the reader sees how a Muslim family is just like any other family.

The added beauty of this book is that it also works for story time. The younger ones may or may not understand the potential stress of being the only Muslim at a party, let alone being the only one fasting, but they do understand that Leena wanted to eat and drink and she remembered that when her little sister wanted her dessert.  They also understand how sometimes it is hard to do what is right, but inshaAllah the reward is sweet indeed.