I started this blog because I know the value fiction can have in empowering and exciting people when they see themselves reflected in story lines. As Muslims, it is a needed tool both for our own children and for teaching other children about us. So, imagine my surprise when I felt my back straighten up and a smile stain my face for a long while after I finished reading this beautiful book about Ramadan traditions all over the world. Not because it showed so many beautiful Muslims from rich colorful backgrounds sharing the common bond of loving Allah in Ramadan, that was expected. Nor was it for the diversity of skin tones, and cultures, and ages, and head coverings, throughout. No, it was because there are characters with autism, and one that is hearing impaired, one in a wheel chair, and a little girl with diabetes who cannot eat all the candy, just a few. I didn’t realize how strong that notion hit me. Me, an adult, a type 1 diabetic since I was 11, there in print, in a book about Muslims. Yes, I may have had tears, I might still as I write this review. It is powerful people, to see yourself in a fictional character, at any age. May Allah swt reward all the authors out there writing books for our children to feel proud of who they are, one beautiful page at a time. You are making a difference.
Emotions aside, this book is wonderful in and of itself. It starts with the moon telling a bit about how Ramadan is fasting from sunrise to sunset, doing good deeds, being kind, and how it is celebrated all over the world. The moon then takes us on a journey to twelve countries: The US, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Scotland, Malaysia, Egypt, Morocco, Madinah, Palestine, and Senegal. Each location gets a two-page spread of text and gorgeous illustrations that tell about a Ramadan celebration, or tradition, and stress something about the month in general such as iftar, or sadaqah, going to the mosque, helping orphans, the adhaan, saying salaam. The book concludes with Ramadan ending and the moon signing off. There is a glossary followed by more information about Ramadan.
In all the book is 40 pages, hardbound, and large enough to make it perfect for story time and bedtime alike. In small bursts the book would work for 4 year olds and up and first graders and up will understand how universal Islam is and relish at the diversity in celebrating “the most wonderful time of the year.”
My hope is to read this book at a Masjid Ramadan Storytime and to have a few of the countries set up as “stations” for the children to visit. I can’t wait to try it out and see if we can remind ourselves how blessed we are to be united all around the world as Muslims, alhumdulillah. For non Muslims this book is not preachy, it shows how a holiday is celebrated in different places, and would do a great job of showing the joy Ramadan contains for Muslims with universal core principals, but how culture and traditions of celebration make it a diverse experience.