Sunday, April 24, 2016

5 Must Read Books on Ramadan

Ramadan is a month long Muslim celebration. There is a strong emphasis on community, family, and charity. Most importantly, it is about a renewal of their focus and faith in Allah. Learning about Ramadan is a way to emphasize that while we are all different, people need faith, community, family, and charity to be healthy and happy.    

With several informative children’s books on Ramadan, educators and parents can expand awareness about the traditions of the followers of Islam.  I learned a lot about this religious and cultural celebration from the selections I chose. For those who have Muslim children in their classroom or neighborhood and want to learn more about their faith and culture, Dorothy Kavanaugh’s Islamic Festivals and Celebrations provides a more comprehensive explanation of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr, hajj, Eid al-Adha, births, weddings, deaths, and other celebrations.  She also includes other books and Internet resources.  The following is a progressive listing of Must Reads for those wanting to expand their students' or children’s multicultural awareness.

This non-fiction book is a fantastic introduction for children. There are many vibrant photographs from various countries illustrating Ramadan traditions like praying, reading the Koran, dancing, and sharing food. The large text is broken into small sections that are easy to understand. Heligman proves a wonderful overview for ages 5 and up. 

My First Ramadan (Karen Katz)
Katz writes her story through the perspective of a preschool child who wants to fast like the grown-ups do.  Young readers get the sense of experiencing the festival for the first time through this wide-eyed, enthusiastic narrator.  Adorable pictures and large text make it ideal for ages 2-6. 

Under the Ramadan Moon (Sylvia Whitman)
This lyrical story provides snapshots of the celebration.  Verses each follow a similar format as  We wait for the moon. We watch for the moon. We watch for the Ramadan moon.” Whitman’s perspective is that of the Muslim people as a whole rather than an individual child telling the story. Ages 4-8 will enjoy it. 

Seven-year-old Pakistani-American Yasmeen tells the story of her family’s modern day celebration. This selection is probably my favorite because of the lush Islamic art and vivid colors, giving it an authentic feel. The storytelling is well done for the target audience of 6-9.

The White Nights of Ramadan (Maha Addasi)
Noor lives in a Middle Eastern country. She shares her excitement and wonder as she prepares for and celebrates in her native country. Readers see their traditional garb and local traditions (like one similar to our Halloween). The text will appeal to ages 6-11.

I want to mention one more book. It is not specifically about Ramadan, but it covers many aspects of it.

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns (Hena Khan)
This concept book illuminates aspects of Islam while teaching colors.  Each poetic couplet captures the culture like “Red is the rug Dad kneels on to pray,/facing toward Mecca, five times a day,” and “Brown is a date, plump and sweet./During Ramadan, it’s my favorite treat.” Mehrdokht Amini’s stunning illustrations round out the elegant text.  This book is worth a trip to the bookstore or library for children ages 2-6.

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