Ramadan is celebrated during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims believe first verses of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam were revealed by Allah. It is a “month of blessing” during which Muslims focus on prayer, fasting, and charity, culminating in the celebration of Eid al-Fitr on July 28, 2014..

Web links to additional information and activities about Ramadan and Islam follow these reviews.

Contributor: Peg Glisson


1001 Inventions & Awesome Facts From Muslim Civilization

National Geographic

This fact-filled picture book lists numerous one-sentence facts drawn from the National Geographic exhibit on Muslim inventions. Bright and colorful with groupings of graphics and notes labeled from A (Architecture and Astronomy) to W (Weapons and Warfare), this book is the equivalent of an adult on a rip at a cocktail party, piling connection on connection and entertaining the crowd. Illuminating the heyday of Muslim Arabia and its colonies during the Dark Ages of Western Europe, the text mentions the same visionaries again and again (Ibn Sina, Ibn Firnas, Ibn Battuta, Al Kindi, Al Jazari), but also highlights some lesser-knowns (the Chinese explorer Zheng He, the 10th Century scientific craftswoman Al-Astrulabiya, named after her devices, the intellectual philanthropist Al-Ma’mun, the inventive Banu Musa brothers). Even students who look briefly at this book will be amazed by Muslim advances in aviation, medicine, astronomy, and more that took place during the European Middle Ages. The Arabic texts of this period, guarded and copied in Islam’s great universities and libraries, helped to energize the explosion of new learning and scientific and artistic inquiry that took place during the Renaissance. This book is an excellent addition to the classroom library, as a volume perfect for the trivia browser and as a supplement to Middle Eastern studies. 2012, National Geographic, Ages 8 up, $14.95.

REVIEWER: Elisabeth Greenberg (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781426312625

Amira’s Totally Chocolate World

J. Samiar Mair

Amira imagines a world completely made of chocolate chocolate flowers, chocolate rain, and chocolate waves in the ocean. She prays to Allah to grant her wish. On the morning of Eid ul-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking) she wakes up to find herself in a chocolate world! She spends all day sailing the chocolate ocean, scooping up cups of chocolate to drink. On her way back home, she realizes she misses the beautiful colors and smells of creation, and asks Allah to return the world to its original beauty. And then she wakes up! This is a story that is just right for new readers, with steady text and just enough repetition. Make sure you have some chocolate on hand the story and illustrations just might make readers hungry. 2010, Kube, Ages five to seven, $8.95

REVIEWER: Foreword Reviews.

ISBN: 9780860374084

Colours of Islam

Dawud Wharnsby

Colours of Islam, by Dawud Wharnsby, is the follow-up to his book of poetry A Picnic of Poems: In Allah’s Green Gardens. Like A Picnic of Poems, this new collection of nine songs tackles a range of topics from acceptance to understanding to unity. “Crying himself to sleep, with no hope left for dreaming. Begging in the burning sun, holding out her hand. Palms held tightly on his ears to muffle all the screaming. Sitting where her house once stood, trying hard to understand.” With each of his songs, Wharnsby sets out to illustrate the universal messages that make up the Islamic faith, such as diversity and love, and he imparts these messages with striking honesty. Though the issues Wharnsby gives voice to can be overwhelming at times, he brings balance to the book by not only incorporating rhyme but also interspersing lighter songs. “Allah made us all a different shade and colour. Nations and tribes recognise one another. ‘Cause every single person is your sister and brother. So many different colours of Islam.” Shireen Adams’ vibrant illustrations beautifully echo the story of each song. “We’ve Scanned the Sky (The Ramadan Song)” is the perfect example because it places the song in a time and place that is familiar to readers – an urban landscape at night. Colours of Islam is yet another educational read by Wharnsby that is sure to educate all young readers on the principles of Islam. Recommended. Rating: *** /4. 2013, The Islamic Foundation (Distributed by Kube Publishing), Ages 6 to 8, $22.95.

REVIEWER: Inderjit Deogun (CM Magazine).

ISBN: 9780860375913

The Garden of My Imaan

Fariiana Ziz

Aliya is an Indian-American Muslim preteen trying to make her way through school and life, riding the various divides between the conservative and liberal interpretations of her religion, standing up to the school bully, working up the nerve to talk to her crush and to run for student council, all while dealing with her annoying younger brother and fasting for Ramadan during Thanksgiving. Aliya’s world is turned upside down with the arrival of Marwa, a Moroccan girl who wears a hijab and seems to fast every day of Ramadan with ease. Embarrassed by Marwa, Aliya starts writing letters to Allah in this modern homage to Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Zia (Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-Ji) has deep insight into adolescent Muslim life and capably handles diversity within American Islam. She provides one of the better representations of the matriarchy of South Asian families in her depiction of Aliya’s home life-with the strong presence of her mother, grandmother, and even great-grandmother-and seamlessly weaves the Urdu language into her story. 2013, Peachtree Publishers, Ages 8-12, $15.95.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

ISBN: 9781561456987

No God But God: The Origins and Evolution of Islam

Reza Aslam

Packing in a formidable amount of research, legend, and critical analysis, Aslan condenses his adult book of the same name to create a concise introduction to Islam. By breaking up chapters with clear subheadings, maintaining a conversational tone, and incorporating numerous anecdotes that both inform and entertain, Aslan makes 15 centuries of religious history digestible without oversimplifying complex material. Beginning with the economic, interreligious, and cultural context into which Muhammad was born, including the Jewish and Christian understandings of prophecy, Aslan focuses on Muhammad’s early life, his growing awareness of his prophetic calling, and his Earthly ministry’s focus on social justice, particularly for women and the poor. Aslan details the sociopolitical influences shaping Islam and the written Quran in the decades following Muhammad’s death, then segues smoothly into relevant contemporary issues, such as the concept of jihad, the role of women in Islam, and ways in which recent technology has allowed for more diverse interpretations of the Quran. This welcome addition to Islamic studies provides a valuable context for reflection about the origins of issues facing Muslims and their neighbors today. 2011, Delacorte, Ages 12 and up,$16.99.

REVIEWER: Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly).

A Picnic of Poems: In Allah’s Green Garden

Dawud Wharnsby

A Picnic of Poems in Allah’s Green Garden is a lovely color-illustrated collection of 30 children’s poems about a world of subjects, including being grateful to God/Allah for daily blessings, family love, a mother’s wisdom, imagining growth, life on a farm, experiencing bullying, appreciating the beauty of nature and loving others, the equality of all human beings, and much more. Accompanied by a CD of original music to sing some of the joyous lyrics, “A Picnic of Poems” is the new “Child’s Garden of Verses” as seen through modern eyes. Charming, brightly colored illustrations show children of different races and religions playing happily and peacefully together in gardens full of wonders. Informed and assisted by a strong awareness Muslim faith in God, or Allah, A Picnic of Poems in Allah’s Green Garden is an unusual multicultural educational book that will enchant children age 5 and up. The Multicultural Shelf …., 2012, The Islam Foundation /Kube Publishing, Ages 5 and up, $22.95.

REVIEWER: Midwest Book Review (Children’s Bookwatch).

ISBN: 9780860374442

Rashad’s Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr

Lisa Bullard

Illustrated by Holli Conger

Children’s books about Islam are beginning to surface, but what sets this book apart from many others is the way it makes a connection between young readers and the young child in the story. Rashad’s parents carefully answer basic questions a young Muslim boy would have about Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr. Through simple explanations, Rashad begins to understand how the moon helps to determine when Ramadan begins, the importance of the season, fasting, worship, and caring for the poor. Tucked into each page are additional explanations for the adult reader that could easily serve to educate those outside of Islam as well as help to provide background information for the questions a young child would ask while reading the book. The bright primary colors used for the illustrations draw children deeper to the story. Conger added details of clothing and a variety of skin colors to help the reader understand the various ethnic backgrounds of the people in the faith. An art project and a glossary are additional resources. This inexpensive paperback book should be in every child’s library. 2012, Millbrook Press, Ages 5 to 9, $6.95.
REVIEWER: Nancy E. Cardenuto (Kutztown University Book Review).

ISBN: 9780761385837

Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp

Trish Marx

Kids go to summer camp in many countries, but few camps have the same mission as Camp Peace, a joint effort between Jews and Palestinians to promote peace for children who share Israel as a homeland. Colorful, engaging photographs show children engaging in normal camp activities: swimming, playing, and camping out. The book focuses on a Jewish boy, Yuval, and a Moslem girl, Alya, who live in neighboring settlements and would otherwise have never met. The author offers a very concise and neutral overview of the roots of the Middle East conflict, a notable achievement in a book designed to represent children on both sides of the fight without bias. The campers visit a kibbutz museum and an Arab woman’s home to bake native bread. Alya helps Yuval make challah, a Jewish bread, because she knows how to bake and he does not. Cooperation is obviously promoted at the camp. The one sobering activity in the book is that the “special visitors” to the camp are a bomb squad who demonstrate how they remove a suspected bomb and treat casualties at a bomb site. Sadly, this event must be as standard to these children as a visit from neighborhood firemen is to American children. With the exception of Alya who wears a hijab (veil) by choice, none of the campers wear kipot (yarmulkes) or other religious head coverings. Yuval wears a kipah when celebrating the Sabbath at home with his family. It raises the question of how a religious child, committed to rules of modesty, participates in coeducational swimming. The author provides further reading, websites, and a glossary of pronunciations, as well as adult-level source reading. A solid addition to collections seeking balance on a very complex subject. 2010, Lee and Low Books, Ages 6 to 10, $19.95.

REVIEWER: Lois Rubin Gross (Children’s Literature).

ISBN: 9781584302605

Updated 07/01/14

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