This 65 page early chapter book in the Sadiq Series does a great job of introducing Ramadan, giving a glimpse of Somali culture, and conveying a relatable and engaging story about friends with a lesson/reminder about the values of communication. A group of boys hosting a fundraising iftar to help a school in Somalia have to figure out the logistics, the marketing, the cooking, and the execution, as they become socially aware and active in helping meet the needs of their community, both locally and afar. This OWN voice tale doesn’t shy away from authentically drawing on religion and culture to make characters and a plot that all readers can enjoy. The book is not preachy, but the characters know who they are in their manners, dress, speech, and environment. A great book any time of year for first grade and up.
With Ramadan starting in a few days, Sadiq and his friends at the Dugsi are reviewing the importance and values of Ramadan. This year the masjid is raising money for a school in Somali and the students are encouraged to help, as sadaqah, or charity, is especially important during Ramadan. The boys decide to host a fundraising iftar at the masjid and with parental help to coordinate with the Imam, the kids have to figure out how to get enough food, get the word out, get set up to take donations and more. They make flyers, set up a website and shoot a small video. The once excited Zaza, however, is no longer very enthusiastic in the Money Makers Club and Sadiq can’t figure out why, but with so much to do and little time to get it done, more friends and family are brought in to help, and things continue on. When Zaza tries to tell Sadiq he wants to do his own fundraiser, Sadiq doesn’t want to listen. I’m not going to spoil if the two friends work it out and how they handle the two ideas, but it is a good lesson in friendship, communication, and charity, Alhumdulillah.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I love that the story starts with information about Somalia and words in Somali as well as a picture of the family. There are activities and questions at the end as well as a glossary of religious, cultural, and English vocabulary words. The book doesn’t assume that the reader knows anything about Islam or Somalia, nor does it assumer that the readers don’t. It strikes a balance of not talking down to the reader or getting too wordy. It simply provides the information needed if you are curious, but allows the story and the boys dilemma to take center stage. The whole series is remarkable in showing diversity and relatability with good quality story telling. I think this is the only book in the series that has a religious theme, I could be mistaken. The illustrations show the boys in kufis and the women in hijab.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
Every elementary school library and every first through third grade classroom library should have this series. I know my public library has it, and the copies I get from there seem to be worn and loved. The age is too young for a book club, but would be great in small groups or for outside reading with the short chapters and engaging illustrations.