We Are Displaced

Many people think refugees should feel only two things: gratitude toward the countries that granted them asylum and relief to be safe. I don’t think most people understand the tangle of emotions that comes with leaving behind everything you know. They are not only fleeing violence—which is why so many are forced to leave, and is what’s shown on the news—but they are escaping their countries, their beloved homes. That seems to get lost in the conversation about refugees and internally displaced people. So much focus is on where they are now—not on what they have lost as a result.

We Are Displaced is the newest nonfiction book written by Malala Yousafzai for young readers.

The first half of the book tells the story of when her own family had to evacuate Swat Valley. They were internally displaced; they stayed with family in Shangla and were able to return home in three months.

The second half of the book tells the stories of ten girls and women from different countries in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America—how they left their countries, the camps they stayed in, their perilous journeys, and the new places they went. One of the accounts in the section is from the point of view of a white woman—one of the volunteers who welcomes one of the refugees when she and her family arrived in Pennsylvania. I was a little uncomfortable with the inclusion of this account. She seems like a wonderful person, but I’m not sure this was the right place for her story.

I’d like to read this again with my almost nine-year-old. I like that it mentions conflicts all over the world, and I’m hoping it can be a way to start conversations about conflicts that are happening in places that we don’t hear about so often, like Uganda and Colombia.

Let me know if you’ve read this or if you’re interested in picking it up!

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, is something of a classic in the world of Muslim children’s literature, and rightly so.

This concept picture book for ages 5–6 uses stunning illustrations of the objects that fill a Muslim’s life to teach about colors, connecting an everyday lesson with an introduction to Islam that small children can understand. View Post

Living Creatures in the Holy Qur’an by Shahada Sharelle Haqq

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When Tughra Books approached me about a new children’s book about animals in the Quran, I was excited by the concept. They were kind enough to send me a copy of Living Creatures in the Holy Qur’an, which is both written and illustrated by Shahada Abdul Haqq. It is essentially a book of stories of the prophets and other stories, but organized by creature. I was pleased to open the table of contents and see how many creatures are mentioned in the Quran: a lot more than I thought. View Post

My First Quran with Pictures Juz Amma Part 1 by Shereen Sharief and illustrated by Nicola Anderson

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I was intrigued by this book from the first moment I saw it on social media. It’s the kind of project that we don’t realize how badly we need it until we actually have it. I’m so excited for Shereen Sharief, and I pray that Allah makes this project heavy in her scale of good deeds. The Quran plays such an important role in the life of a Muslim, and there is no doubt that teaching children the meaning of the Quran is a priority. My First Quran with Pictures is a fantastic resource to facilitate understanding of the verses children memorize and use first: Juz Amma.

What makes this book unique is the format and the fantastic illustrations by Nicola Anderson. The name of each surah appears clearly at the top of the page in Arabic and English. Some surahs have a paragraph of background information at the top (including the cause of revelation if applicable). Each Arabic ayah appears near its illustration. The English meanings of the ayahs appear at the bottom of the page. All ayahs are clearly numbered so it’s very easy to find the English that corresponds to the Arabic, and the opposite.

At first I was confused about how to read this with my children. After we worked out a rhythm, they didn’t want to stop. The method we worked out was that one of them would read the surah on the page, pausing after each ayah. When they paused, I would read the English translation out loud. And then they would read the next ayah. All the while, I used a finger to follow along with the Arabic ayah in the book, which is conveniently placed next to the illustration depicting the meaning. View Post

Ramadan by Ausma Zehanat Khan

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I’m thrilled to review Ramadan The Holy Month of Fasting by Ausma Zehanat Khan. I’m so pleased to see such a highly-accessible book about Ramadan for older readers (9–12 years). The book is printed in full color with lots of pictures. After the typical sections on what Ramadan is about, Khan has included sections on community engagement and the culture of Ramadan around the world. View Post