Its surprising how few books about Umrah there are for children. As a religious act that many children are included in, there really should be more, but alhumdulillah this fun one exists, and conveys the steps of Umrah in rhyming fashion for ages 4 and up.
Told from a little boy’s perspective about his family’s journey, a little history is given, before the major parts of Umrah are explored. The book prefaces the story with a note to parents and teachers making sure they know the book is a semi-fictional narrative meant to reinforce learning, it isn’t a comprehensive guide.
Full page pictures with four line stanza groups detail the steps about the journey and flight to Mecca, including defining and using the arabic words for the talbiyah, putting on ihram, crossing meeqat and praying rak’atayn. The step-by-step approach is warm and exciting, as the pictures show smiling faces and the words balance information and enthusiasm of being in Mecca for the first time.
Details about praying, rich and poor, side by side are included, making tawaf, seeing the black stone, seeing Maqam Ibrahim, drinking Zamzam water, a bit of history about Sa’i, and the little boy feeling tired going back and forth between Safa and Marwa are all given in a well paced narrative that is neither rushed, nor overly forced (just a little to keep the rhyme scheme :)). The steps of Umrah conclude with the family members getting hair cuts and then a quick trip to Madinah.
There is a glossary at the end of the 32 page book, that is nice for older kids, or as a way to reinforce words used to describe the journey. I think the strength of the book is really that it shows what to expect during Umrah. Children about to go will benefit from the mapping of the events and getting a heads up on what awaits them. Children that have gone will have a handy way to remember what they did. Children learning about Hajj perhaps, will be able to see how Umrah is shorter and be able to see what the similarities and differences are in a simple manner. Even children who have no connection yet to Umrah will benefit from the vocabulary and excitement shared in the story. While the story is aimed at younger kids, even middle elementary age kids will enjoy reading it once or twice.
The book claims to come with a poster and paper dolls to reinact the steps of Umrah, but I purchased my book second hand and they weren’t present. Hence, I didn’t comment on their quality, but it sounds like a wonderful supplement to the book.