Tag Archives: Islam

Common Threads: Adam’s Day at the Market

Written by: Huda Essa

Illustrated by: Mercè Tous

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Global Community, Family, Diversity, Kindness, Clothing, Islam, Culture & Traditions. 

Summary: Adam and his parents go to the outdoor market one day, and he sees a bright blue jay.  Following it, Adam doesn’t realize he’s left his parents behind until he tugs on what he thinks is his mother’s tunic but it turns out to be a nun’s dress.  Adam tries to identify his parents clothes in the crowd, only to realize that many different types of people dress in similar ways!  The individuals that Adam mistakes for his parents work together to bring them back together, and connect to each other in the process.

This book has few words, and the rich illustrations do the majority of the plot development.  Adam and his parents live in a diverse community that is wonderfully represented by the similarities in clothing that Adam mistakes for his parents.  The emphasis on community in this story is timely, some people live in fear of differences or the unknown.  In the beginning as well as the end of the book are statements about the power of community and diversity, and how we are stronger together.  This is a really beautiful book that can teach fantastic cultural vocabulary about garments along with the other messaging it promotes.

This book was sent to us by Sleeping Bear Press as an entry in the Best Books of 2019 List, but all opinions and decision to review were our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

huda_finalHuda Essa has been a teacher since she was a child. Her first students were her stuffed animals. When she became a teacher as a grown up, she loved finally having human children as her students! Now, as a speaker and author, Huda is a teacher to adult humans, too. Huda’s debut book, Teach Us Your Name, and her TEDx Talk, “Your Name is the Key!” teach us to use our names to learn more about ourselves and to embrace our wonderful human diversity. Huda teaches all over the world, but lives in Michigan. You can visit her LinkedIn here!

pintant-300x292Mercè Tous lives and works “in Barcelona, my place of birth. I love being near the sea and make the most of the wide range of cultural activities and opportunities for social networking this cosmopolitan city offers. However, whenever I can, I return to nature, my main source of inspiration.

Since I was a child I have always liked drawing, painting and immersing myself in pictures and illustrated books. My grandfather was my first art teacher, who passed on to me the passion for art, instilled in me the curiosity, the value of hard working and the satisfaction of doing a good job. I like all the art disciplines, and I have discovered with illustration a means to search beauty, to tell stories and to express my particular perspective of what surrounds me. I think that having an artistic profession is a chance to make a journey to discover the depth of oneself and, at the same time, to open to the world.

I graduated in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona in 2008. Then I obtained the Art Teacher Certification in the same university. I carried on my education pursuing a postgraduate course specializing in children’s and youth’s book illustration at “Escola Eina” (Autonomous University of Barcelona) as well as three annual courses of illustration at “Escola de la Dona” lead by Ignasi Blanch and other great illustrators such as Cristina Losantos and Roger Olmos. I’ve also participated in several illustration workshops in Barcelona and Italy leaded by illustrators that I admire such as Octavia Monaco, Rebecca Lucciani, Mariona Cabassa and Joanna Concejo. Nowadays I work as a freelance illustrator.”

 

Yo Soy Muslim

Written by: Mark Gonzales

Illustrated by: Mehrdokht Amini

For ages: 3 years and up

Language: English & Spanish, mention of speaking Arabic (but none in book).

Topics Covered: Family, Religion,Muslim Identity, Culture & Traditions, Love, Community, Islamophobia, Social-Emotional Learning, Multicultural Families. 

Summary: This is an incredibly beautiful story written from the perspective of a father’s letter to his daughter about being part of a multicultural family.  Much of the book is about how to joyfully approach the world and the questions that both you have for the world and that others in the world have for you.  This book doesn’t get into great detail about Islamic faith or particularities of the religion, mostly speaking of appreciation of the world around us.  The central message is appreciation for one’s culture and the natural world around us, as well as learn how to respond with love when faced with Islamophobia.  This unique perspective of a Spanish-speaking Muslim family is not one written about often, but much needed!

These illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful.  Amini has preciously illustrated a joyful girl interacting with the world, navigating and asking questions.  Short lines text do not interrupt the flow of the pictures, and instead enhance them.  Rich colors and patterns fill the pages, catching the eyes of readers at any age.  This book briefly touches on how some days people will not be kind and smile at you, prompting discussion with younger readers on how to develop social-emotional skills around engaging with others.

Reflection Questions:

  • Has a loved one of yours ever written you a letter like the father in the book does for his daughter?
  • How do you think the daughter feels when she reads and listens to his words?
  • How can you help friends or family members “learn what it means to be human”?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • This book focuses on teaching how to respond to people when faced with Islamophobia specifically, but can be broadly applied to a variety of situations.  How can we as people learn to approach others with love in the face of unfamiliarity rather than immediate suspicion or fear?
  • Mehrdokht Amine uses high jewel tones in many of her illustrations, with intricate patterns in the backgrounds.  Try using different artistic techniques to create your own unique spin on illustrations like Mini does!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

2112941545_thMark Gonzales is a father, futurist, and one of the most innovative storytellers of our time. His creative portfolio spans twenty countries and includes: 3 TED stages, HBO Def Poetry, Stanford University, and the United Nations. Yo Soy Muslim is his first venture into children’s literature, a journey inspired by his daughter and the stories she’ll grow up reading. Currently, Mark journeys between California and northern Africa with his family, seeding ways to excite the human imagination.  Here is another great article that interviews Mark!

 

mehrdokt aminiMehrdokht Amini has illustrated several books for children including Chicken in the Kitchen by Nnedi Okorafor, which won the 2016 Children’s Africana Best Book Award, and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan. She has illustrated books published in Iran, Poland, Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Mehrdokht grew up in Iran and now lives in Surrey, England. Visit her website at MyArt2C.com!

Mommy’s Khimar

Written by: Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Illustrated by: Ebony Glenn

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: Family, Love, Islam, Muslim Identity, POC-Centric Narratives, Culture & Traditions.

Summary: This book is about a little girl and how much she loves her mother’s khimars. She goes into her closet and looks at all of the colorful scarves, finally choosing her favorite yellow one.  When she puts on the yellow khimar, she shines like the sun, becomes a superhero, and a mother bird able to protect her little brother while he naps.  We also meet the narrator’s grandmother, who doesn’t wear a hijab or go to mosque.  The narrator says they all love each other, and are a family nonetheless.  At the mosque, the narrator wears her favorite yellow khimar and is greeted warmly by everyone.  At home in the evening, both the narrator and her mother remove their khimars and get ready for bed.  She falls asleep dreaming of all the things she can be, and how she feels her mother is with her when she’s wearing that yellow scarf that shines like the sun.

This book’s illustrations are adorable.  They excuse happiness and serenity, a family that loves each other and celebrating their religious identity.  There are a lot of preconceived notions about Islam and Muslim identity, and this book addresses the freedom the narrator feels to imagine what she can be while wearing her headscarf.  The book doesn’t look beyond childhood into adulthood, but instead centers love and affection for the khimar and her mother.

Reflection Questions:

  • What is something you love, that makes you feel closer to a family member?
  • Do you have any friends that wear khimars?
  • Why do you think that particular khimar reminds the narrator so strongly of her mother?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Learn about different religions within your family. What do you think enables you to get along and exist in love like the narrator’s family?  Share as a class, and celebrate the religious diversity among the group.
  • Explore the neighborhood for different religious buildings.  Is something more prevalent in your neighborhood than in others?  Why do you think so?  Is there a high concentration of a specific community where you live?  Are you part of that community, or a different one?
  • Sometimes, people are intolerant of those different from them. Learn how to be brave and stand up for others.  Whether it’s about a game, bullying, or religious difference, we should be supportive of each other and build relationships that celebrate diversity and inclusion rather than homogeneity.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

jamilah-thompkins-bigelow-2120035660

Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow is a passionate educator, anti-racism activist, wife, and mother of two. She is a 2016 MuslimARC Muslim Anti-Racism–AMEL Fellow. She lives in Philadelphia with her family. Mommy’s Khimar is her first picture book.

 

 

 

Headshot-Ebony-Glenn-round-smallerEbony Glenn is an Atlanta based illustrator who enjoys bringing stories to life with whimsical imagery. A passion for the arts, great storytelling, and advocating diversity in children’s books, she aims to create illustrations that will foster a love of reading in young readers.  She also loves to create joyful and heartwarming crafts to satisfy her endless need to always make new things. When Ebony is not giving in to her creative itch of art-making, you may find her lost in the pages of a good book, learning some new hula-hooping tricks, or going on an adventure with her pups, Louie and Gabby. Ebony is also the proud recipient of the 2018 Wonders of Childhood Focus Fellowship, an award given by AIR Serenbe, a nonprofit artist residency program of the Serenbe Institute in Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia.

Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes

Written by: Hena Khan

Illustrated by: Mehrdokht Amini

For Ages: Infant and Up

Language: English and Arabic

Topics Covered: Muslim Culture, Historic Narratives, Islam, Global Community, Geometry and Shapes.

Summary: This rhyming book intertwines shapes with Muslim culture and religion.  Additionally, each page features a different country where an Islamic community exists and thrives.  This aspect shows the true diversity of the religion and introduces the reader to Arabic terminology.  Shapes covered include: hexagon, triangle, rectangle, octagon, and oval.  Muslim and Arabic terminology introduced includes: iftar, jannah, the Ka’aba, and salaam.  This themed book is an interesting way to combine several topics at once, and the illustrations are beautiful.  For an individual that does not follow this religion, it is a helpful introduction a new global community.  The only point of improvement that could be noted is although that back of the book says a different country is featured on each set of pages, they are not labeled.  The illustrations are incredibly diverse, but a signifier would be helpful for a reader that does not know the deeper cultural meaning for these symbols written about.  There is a helpful glossary in the back of the book of the Arabic words used throughout.

Reflection Questions:

  • What other shapes do you know that aren’t in this book?
  • Have you ever been to any of these places mentioned in the book, like a mosque?
  • The characters in the book seem very happy celebrating their faith, does your family celebrate their beliefs in any way?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Many different people all over the world share religions.  What are some different holidays people in the class celebrate?
  • Write your own book teaching a subject you know a lot about.  Animals, vegetables, trees, what do you want people to know more about?

About the Author & the Illustrator:

hena khanHena Khan is a Pakistani-American Muslim who was born and raised in Maryland, and enjoys sharing and writing about her culture and religion. She has also written about a bunch of other topics, from spies to space travel, that take her out of her reality and on adventures. While not quite as thrilling, she’s had a few adventures of her own, managed to get to some pretty fantastic places on our planet, and met incredible people. She’s slightly obsessed with Spain, ceramic tiles and pottery, food, flamenco, and good coffee. When she’s not cooking up a story, she’s often actually cooking food or baking treats. She also spends time writing and editing for international organizations that work to improve the health and lives of people around the world.

mehrdokt aminiMehrdokht Amini has illustrated several books for children including Chicken in the Kitchen by Nnedi Okorafor, which won the 2016 Children’s Africana Best Book Award, and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan. She has illustrated books published in Iran, Poland, Korea, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Mehrdokht grew up in Iran and now lives in Surrey, England. Visit her website at MyArt2C.com!