Mr. Gamal’s students are grumpy. One lost her bouncy ball; another doesn’t like his lunch. Mr. Gamal wishes there was a way to help them be more positive. On the way home from school, he stops at the dollar store, one of his favorite places. Seeing a bin of funky colored glasses, he gets the idea that “gratitude glasses” might help his students see the world in a new light. Continue reading
My First Book About the Qur’an, written by Sara Khan and illustrated by Ali Lodge, is a colorful and whimsical board book that is a perfect introduction to Islam for every tiny Muslim. The simple, friendly words together with the bright, happy illustrations make this book a joy to read and share. Continue reading
Snatched is a really sweet picture book set in Egypt about a little boy named Omar who makes a mistake, but owns it, and makes amends with his mom’s help.
Yan is a poor farmer who wants to go to hajj. But every time he saves up enough money and sets out, he meets someone in his path who needs his help.
He empties his money purse while on his journey three times, first to help repair a burned-down school, then to rescue a hurt and exploited boy, and finally, to build a mosque. Each time, he simply goes back home and gets back to work to save more money. Eventually, he is old enough that he knows he won’t be able to save enough money again. But the good deeds he filled his life with have caught up with him, and the boy he rescued comes to take Yan to hajj. On this final journey, he sees the fruits of his labor: the school, the boy’s happy parents, and the mosque. Continue reading
Oomi tells Yusuf and Isa that she has a surprise for them. They take guesses as they eat dinner, and clean up, and play, and brush their teeth, and finally . . . They discover that the surprise is even better than any of their guesses. This is a cute story about a young family’s everyday life with a Muslim bent.
In Mommy’s Khimar, a powerful new picture book for children 4–8, a little girl plays dress-up in her mom’s scarves, imagining she’s a queen, a superhero, and a mama bird.
Her favorite scarf is the yellow one, and when she wears it, it’s a cuddle from her mom. Even when she takes off her khimar, she carries her mother with her. Continue reading
Zak is having a great day and can’t wait to go to the skate park with his dad and sister. He just has to do more chore and not tell any lies. Easy, right?
Zak and His Little Lies, written by J. Samia Mair and illustrated by Omar Burgess, is a fun and engaging picture book and the second in a series about Zak. Continue reading
Bismillah Soup is one of my favorite picture books about a Muslim child. It is a delightful story about a boy who uses positivity and hard work to bring his community together and overcome adversity.
The Story. Hasan, a young Somali boy, knows his mom has a lot of problems. His dad is away for work, and they are down to the last few grains of rice in the bag. An electricity outage means a lot of their food has spoiled. Hasan, eager to help his mom, promises they will have a huge feast that night. She is perplexed, but Hasan runs off with his optimism in tow. He goes to the masjid and explains his problem to Shaykh Omar, who offers a pot and a bag of rice, and assures him, “Say Bismillah, and I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
This is the beginning of a beautiful tale about one boy’s perseverance and faith in Allah. Based on the classic story Stone Soup, it has a Somali flavor: his parents are his Aabo and Hooyo, and there are muufo bread, samboos, and bananas. Continue reading
I was so excited to see this book; I think that talking to children about the kiraman katibeen (the angels who write your deeds, good and bad) is a great way to broach the topic of accountability. Unfortunately, while the illustrations (by Omar Burgess) are absolutely stunning, the writing (by Razana Noor) didn’t work for me.
This 20-page picture book is written as a rhyming poem that is broad in subject, and the accompanying illustrations build on the poem to tell a specific story about a little boy. He tells us about the angels on his right and left who write down his good and bad deeds. They are always with him, and they will be for his entire life. We see him doing good and bad deeds. The first person narration is clever; we get a bit of the boy’s interiority as he struggles to do what he knows is right, and children can empathize with that. For example, “To stop the angel feeling blue, / There is still something I can do / Say, ‘I’m sorry,’ and try my best / To not do it again. That’s my test.” Continue reading
Yo Soy Muslim
Written by Mark Gonzales
Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2017 32 pages
Yo Soy Muslim is a touching picture book for children 4–8 years old. Written as a letter from a father to his daughter, it explores themes of religion, culture, and language, and describes the world as a place his daughter belongs in.
The illustrations are by Mehrdokht Amini, who also illustrated Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, and are absolutely stunning. Continue reading