Seven Islamic-themed books for your child’s bookshelf
Ilyas and Duck Search for Allah
Ilyas, with his bestie Duck, sets out in search of Allah. He visits new habitats and meets animal characters who are unable to provide the answer that Ilyas is looking for. However, towards the end of the story, the little boy is able to make sense of the clues that the animals leave for him. What’s adorable about this book is not just the message that Omar Khawaja wants to send but also the way that Leo Antolini has illustrated not so common animals, such as the Alpine ibex, mandrill, anglerfish and the hoopoe bird. The text is short and repetitive – just right for its audience.
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors
A rhyming narration by a little Muslim girl about the colours that make up her deen (religion), Hena Khan’s book aims to teach colour concepts through objects and practices that are a part of her everyday life. The red prayer rug, the blue hijab, the white kufi (traditional cap for men), the golden mosque and the green Quran are depicted via four-line verses that a preschooler won’t take long to learn and recite: “Yellow is the box we fill on Eid, with gifts of zakat for those in need,” goes one. Mehrdokht Amini’s stunning illustrations make the book unputdownable.
The Conference of the Birds
Alexis York Lumbard
A beautiful retelling of an ancient Islamic tale for children, Alexis York Lumbard’s book is about a flock of birds led by a hoopoe that set out in search of a king. But this long pilgrimage is not for the feeble-hearted: each bird must conquer its fears to complete the arduous journey. The story is supported by detailed illustrations.
Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad
Football, dance and music all form a part of Ali’s life in Baghdad. But what he loves most is practising Arabic calligraphy. He writes everywhere – on margins of newspapers and the mirror in the bathroom. Ali’s secret hero is Yakut, the renowned 13th-century calligrapher. It is in Yakut’s footsteps that Ali follows when war breaks out in his country: Ali finds it easier to write the word harb (war), but chooses to practise salaam (peace), “until the word flows freely” from his pen. James Rumford’s richly illustrated book has a slice of everything – from history to tradition to war and peace – and understands the joys and fears of a child really well.
Time to Pray (English and Arabic)
Yasmin visits her granny in the Middle East and observes her pray five times a day to the call of the muezzin. Granny, referred to as Teta by the little girl, initiates her little habibti (beloved) into the process by getting her a prayer rug and making her prayer clothes of her choice. She shows Yasmin how to wash before prayer, takes her to a mosque and helps her practise her verses. On reaching home, Yasmin finds in her bag a gift from Teta to help her remember her prayer times. The affection and mentoring so typical of a granny make Maha Addasi’s story relatable for every child. Ned Gannon’s illustrations transport the reader to a typical Middle Eastern setting in this bilingual book.
The Best Eid Ever
Little Aneesa is upset about her parents being away on Haj at Eid. To cheer her up, her Nonni (granny) gets her three beautiful dresses, complete with matching shoes and bangles. A meeting with two refugee girls at the mosque gives Aneesa a strong desire to do something for them. She gives them her dresses and a lamb korma that Nonni has cooked, and makes do with a simple dinner.
40 Sufi Comics
Mohammed Ali Vakil and Mohammed Arif Vakil
A collection of short, illustrated and simplified anecdotes from Islamic traditions, this book depicts stories with the universal values of love, respect and faith. Each comic includes the artist’s personal note about an experience related to the story. The references to the Quran and the traditions add meaning for older children.
All available on Amazon.com.
Updated: February 25, 2014 04:00 AM