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11 Books with Muslim Characters (or that are Muslim-Authored) Your Kids Should Read!
Lifestyle
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Aug 4, 2022
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7 MIN READ
Layla Abdullah-Poulos
contributing writer
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Layla Abdullah-Poulos
contributing writer
Some of my best parenting moments have come in reading to my little ones and taking them to the library to pick out their own books to read. Their eagerness to know what happens next, the excitement kids feel when they get lost in a story – it’s just the best. Reading to children is a great bonding activity for them and their parents and encourages them to have a lifelong love for reading.
Reading is an essential part of our children’s lives. Frequent reading improves cognitive development and language skills and help kids develop vivid imagination and creativity.
Reading is built into our children’s school curriculum, but when school is out parents should try and make sure that their kids have access to books and engage in reading. Integrating reading into summer fun (or just in general) helps to reduce a child experiencing a summer reading slump, where they lose some of the valuable reading development they acquired inside the classroom during the school year.
Homeschooling parents must also institute summer (and better yet, year-round) reading. Whether traditional or homeschooled, children benefit from consistent access to books, which may mean trips to the library, bookstore or downloading ebooks or audiobooks. Either way, giving our kids books and encouraging them to spend some of their time reading is an important part of academic and personal development.
It is also vital that we expose our children to diverse reading material. Diverse books provide a chance for young readers to learn about an expanse of human cultures, experiences and emotions. Books highlighting diversity promote empathy and help our children resist cultural biases and prejudices.
Diverse books also let kids see themselves between the pages. Muslim children from a range of identities, races and backgrounds get to appreciate the different cultures and experiences of those who share their faith. Thus, parents and caregivers should stock shelves and e-readers with various Muslim children’s books to promote cultural awareness and appreciation in their children.
Below are some titles by Muslim authors or highlighting Muslim characters for young children and middle graders you may want to check out or even add to your child(ren)’s own personal library. I have included the books’ Amazon blurbs, edited and adapted for publication.
Kindergarten to Third Grade
Like a turtle, Salih carries his home on his back. He must cross a raging sea in search of a safe home. Salih paints his happiest memories and sends them as messages in bottles. Will someone find them and understand their meaning? Will Salih find a new home?
Zahra lives in a beautiful place where the desert reaches the sea and one hundred butterflies always fill the sky. When Baba and Mama tell her that their family is no longer welcome here and they must leave, Zahra wonders if she will ever feel at home again – and what about the people she will leave behind? But when she and her family arrive in a new desert, she's surprised to find magic all around her. Home might not be as far away as she thought it would be.
With spare, moving text and vivid artwork, Zahra Marwan tells the true story of her and her family's immigration from Kuwait, where they were considered stateless, to New Mexico, where together they made a new home.
It's Joe's first day at a new school. It's big, scary and different. He misses his school, his old friends and his old life. Can't he just go back to the way things were?
But when Mae hears that there's a new kid starting school, she can't wait to meet him. Is this her chance to make a true friend?
A New Friend is the next book in the “One Book, Two Stories” format. With this innovative format, two books telling two different stories are bound together.
One book follows Joe on his first day at school, while the other shows Mae on her quest to make friends with the new kid. The stories can also be read side-by-side, as spreads from each book complement each other and are linked with corresponding page numbers. The final spread at the back of the book reveals a shared ending, in which Joe and Mae are united in the playground!
Abdullah only sees his Dad working! He feels upset when his Dad rushes to leave for work in the morning and doesn’t have time to pick him up after school. When his teacher asks him to make a ‘Jazak Allah Khair’ card, the only person he can think of to thank is his Mum. Join Abdullah as he learns about the meaning of gratitude.
Fatima al-Fihri loved to learn. She wanted to know everything, like how birds flew, why the sky was blue, and how flowers grew. But more than anything, she wanted a school for all, where anyone could study and become whatever they wanted, like teachers, scientists and doctors.
Fatima carried her one wish inside her through good times and bad as she grew older. Fueled by her faith and her determination, she worked hard to make her one wish come true. For over 1,000 years, Fatima’s one wish – her school – served students and scholars from around the globe, and it continues to do so today!
With lyrical text by M. O. Yuksel (author of In My Mosque) and stunning illustrations by Mariam Quraishi, this true-life portrait of an extraordinary Muslim woman shows the importance of never giving up on your dreams and how we all have the power to change the world for the better.
Hana has a humongous collection of hijabs and accessories, and her hijab is always styled superbly. But when her overflowing collection gets a little out of hand, Hana knows something needs to be done, and she comes up with a clever plan for sharing her talents and possessions with her community! Young makers will chuckle along with this humorous tale of creative problem-solving and learning to help others.
(Please note, this book is currently on pre-order and will be released in September.)
Middle-Grade Books
Ashar is busy with the ice hockey team, studying to get into the best school, and hanging out with his friends. Shaheer and his father are always moving, following his dad's jobs. Shaheer has given up hope of finding a place where he can put down roots, a place that feels like home.
The two boys have nothing in common. But when they meet on Shaheer's first day at his new school, it’s like looking in a mirror.
They quickly figure out that they're twins, separated as babies. And, they are determined to do whatever it takes – including secretly switching identities – to get to know the parent they've been separated from.
This is the story of two long-lost brothers who, while they might not like each other, just might need each other.
Told through the eyes of Farida as well as her inquisitive siblings, this is a beautiful story about growing up in Sudan. Sudanese culture and customs are brought to life, from the ubiquitous tea service and hearty breakfasts to the commemoration of Muslim holidays and the rites of birth and death. But a happy childhood spent in the capital and the rural villages of 1960s Sudan ends startlingly with a sudden military coup that changes the make-up of Farida’s family forever. Told in short, standalone chapters in direct and unadorned prose, the book is perfect for teachers to use as excerpts in the classroom.
Zachary Ying never had many opportunities to learn about his Chinese heritage. His single mom was busy enough making sure they got by, and his schools never taught anything except Western history and myths. So Zack is woefully unprepared when he discovers he was born to host the spirit of the First Emperor of China for a vital mission: sealing the leaking portal to the Chinese underworld before the upcoming Ghost Month blows it wide open.
The mission immediately turns wrong when the First Emperor botches his attempt to possess Zack’s body and binds to Zack’s AR gaming headset instead, leading to a battle where Zack’s mom’s soul gets taken by demons. Now, with one of history’s most infamous tyrants yapping in his headset, Zack must journey across the country to heist magical artifacts and defeat figures from history and myth, all while learning to wield the emperor’s incredible water dragon powers.
And if Zack can’t finish the mission in time, the spirits of the underworld will flood into the mortal realm, and he could lose his mom forever.
Zara’s in charge of it all: she organizes the games, picks the teams, and makes sure everyone has a good time…and they always do.
When a new family moves in across the street, suddenly Zara’​s reign is threatened by Naomi, who has big ideas of her own about how the neighborhood kids can have fun. To get everyone to notice her again, Zara decides she’s going to break a Guinness World Record – if her little brother Zayd doesn’t mess things up.
But when she finds herself increasingly alone in her record-breaking quest, Zara starts to wonder if sharing the crown and making a new friend might end up being the best rule of all.
Meet Omar Hernández, a not-so-average Muslim student in Ms. Khan’s fifth-grade class at An-Noor Islamic Academy. Omar still feels like the new kid at school. Even after a year and a half of trying to fit in, he has not found his place among his classmates. His life takes an unexpected turn when Ms. Khan gives the class an assignment about how their families celebrate the month of Ramadan. Will Omar’s family traditions make him more of an outcast at school? Find out in this one-of-a-kind story about a Latino Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr sure to inspire you and your taste buds!
Get your kids these books and let them finish off summer with fun reads that will let them see themselves and others and maintain their reading skills heading into the new school year.
What are some books your kids read this summer? Leave a title in the comments.
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