I love books that show, not tell how diverse Muslims are and celebrate the unique ways that Islam and culture come together. This early elementary chapter book beautifully blends, Islam with Spanish words and phrases that all come together to celebrate Ramadan and Eid in America. At 79 pages, with illustrations sprinkled in, this is a great book to share all year long.
Omar is in 5th grade and when his teacher assigns the entire class to write an essay about their Ramadan and Eid traditions he is nervous that his family’s way of celebrating is very different than everyone else’s. Omar’s mom is from Puerto Rico and his dad’s parents immigrated from Ecuador, even after a year and a half at the Islamic school, though, he still feels like the new kid, and doesn’t want to draw attention to himself.
Sensing that Omar is nervous, his teacher Ms. Khan offers ways to brainstorm and organize his thoughts. Once home, in his casa, his little sister and parents join in to give him enough ideas, if only he can be brave enough to share them.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I love that there is so much joy and love in this little book. The twist of having a kid not feel like he is fitting in at an Islamic school, is also so fabulous to read. The OWN voice narrative and recipe at the back will help kids like Omar everywhere feel confident to share their culture, and those that know kids like Omar (even if only fictiously) anxious to learn more about Latino Muslims.
The only thought that did cross my mind, when Jummah was being explained as the congregational prayer on Friday, was why not use the word Jummah, just like all the Spanish words were used, and then defined. I would love to ask the author who the intended audience is, and how that shaped her word choice, what was defined and what wasn’t.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
I’m hoping to get copies to the first grade and second grade teacher to read in Ramadan to their classes. This book has the potential to really excite kids, expand their understanding, and show them how beautiful and diverse Islam really is.