Tag Archives: Asma Mobin-Uddin

My Name is Bilal by Asma Mobin-Uddin, Illustrated by Barbara Kiwak



The other book I discussed during my Story Time theme of bullying was, My Name is Bilal, by Asma Mobin-Uddin,  The book is an AR 3.5 so I summarized parts when reading it aloud, but at bedtime one-on-one my five-year-old was able to grasp what the characters were going through and how best to handle “mean” people.

The premise of this 32 page, fairly content heavy picture book, is a new family starting at a new school.  The main character Bilal does not stand up to some boys teasing and pulling off his sister’s hijab, and then chooses to tell people his name is Bill instead of Bilal so that no one knows he is Muslim.  Fortunately, Bilal has a Muslim teacher who doesn’t jump in to “save” Bilal, but instead shares with him a book about Bilal Ibn-Rabah, the slave who was tortured by the people of Mecca in their attempts to get him to renounce Allah (swt) and Islam.  Young Bilal, finds strength in this story to stand up to the bullies as well as compassion in giving them a second chance.  He even finds there are more Muslim’s around him and being true to yourself is something even those different than you can understand and respect.

Yes, the book is to neat and tidy and it all works out in the end.  But, I think it is a good introduction to being proud of who you are and not backing down.  I like that the kids essentially handle things on their own and that no one is painted singularly as “good” or “bad,” both Bilal and the other kids are flawed and figuring things out. When I read this during Story Time we talked about it from the “bullies” point of view of what a better way to handle someone or something that you don’t understand would be, a scarf in this case, and how asking questions is always more respectful than teasing. We also talked about being the different one in a new environment and how to be prepared if someone does give you a hard time.  The characters in the book are older presumably than 4th or 5th grade allowing this to be a gateway into discussing bullying a bit abstractly, inshaAllah not once it has already begun.

The illustrations are colorful and realistic, not detracting from the seriousness of  the subject matter.  Overall the book serves a purpose and tells a good story.  Plus, the reader learns a little about Bilal and how the early Muslim’s struggled and encourages them to seek out what their own names mean and represent.

A Party in Ramadan By Asma Mobin-Uddin Illustrated by Laura Jacobsen



This is a great book that works on a variety of levels.  Leena is fasting the whole day for the first time, but is also invited to a friends party.  Her mom gives her the choice to fast or not as it is not yet mandatory at her age, and she decides to fast AND go to the party.  The story takes you through the activities of the party and how some parts are easy and some harder for the fasting Leena.  The end has a wonderful surprise for both Leena and the reader as the author gives us all reason to hope that respect among friends exists, and that in fact one can stay true to their beliefs and have support from their friends.

This book is  great conversation starter for older kids who maybe have tried to fast and felt the temptations of day-to-day life in a non -Islamic environment.  With an AR level of 4.2 and 34 pages the story is strong enough to hold a fourth graders attention and get them to analyze what they would do in a similar situation.  Although the book is about Ramadan and some facets about how fasting is done, what it means, and why Muslims do it, are sprinkled in, the story isn’t overly religious in nature.  The characters are simply Muslim, they pray, they thank Allah, they wear hijab, they make duaas and they also go to friend’s parties. I think non-Muslims would benefit from this book and see the beauty of diversity as Leena and her friends support one another.  The pictures also do a wonderful job of depicting the story: the characters are warm and happy, some cover some do not, they eat chocolate pudding and Baklava and the reader sees how a Muslim family is just like any other family.

The added beauty of this book is that it also works for story time. The younger ones may or may not understand the potential stress of being the only Muslim at a party, let alone being the only one fasting, but they do understand that Leena wanted to eat and drink and she remembered that when her little sister wanted her dessert.  They also understand how sometimes it is hard to do what is right, but inshaAllah the reward is sweet indeed.