The Islamic month of Ramadan is a solemn holiday of fasting, charity, and additional prayer, culminating in the joyous feasting of Eid al-Fitr. Ramadan mubarak to those observing, and Happy Eid!

We’d like to call your attention to archived reading suggestions from our friends at KitaabWorld, who used to review and recommend children’s books with a focus on South Asian culture and identity, and now Lantern Reads, for additional titles and much more. Also check out Heidi Rabinowitz and Sadaf Siddique's recent Horn Book Magazine article "We Need Diverse Jewish and Muslim Books: A Conversation," plus stay tuned in the May/June 2023 Horn Book Magazine for an update from the authors. Additionally, Boston-based publisher Mango & Marigold Press (formerly Bharat Babies) has two books on the topic: Amal’s Ramadan and Amal’s Eid, both written by Amy Maranville and illustrated by Joshua Stevens, which star a little boy who excitedly describes the ways his warm observant Muslim family celebrates the holidays. Hijabi Librarians, too, is a good place to find reviews, blog posts, and interviews. And Simon & Schuster’s imprint Salaam Reads is publishing books for all ages focused on Muslim characters and experiences.

Little Simon’s Celebrate the World board-book series includes Ramadan by Hannah Eliot and illustrated by Rashin. Eliot’s accessible text gives a straightforward but warm overview of the significance of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr; traditions associated with each holiday; and the holidays’ important themes of gratitude and good works. Rashin’s textured, brightly hued acrylic and oil illustrations affectionately portray the celebrations of diverse Muslim families and communities. (See also Rashin’s semi-autobiographical picture book Saffron Ice Cream, about which we are still dreaming after her visit to Simmons).

Of additional interest may be our "Refugees welcome here: resources and booklist" compiled in response to rising Islamophobia; Julie Hakim Azzam's Horn Book Magazine article "'Mommy, Do I Have White Skin?': Skin Color, Family, and Picture Books," about seeking out and reading mirror books with her Arab American children; and this Family Reading post to celebrate Muslim Women's Day.

The following books can be a part of a child’s annual holiday observation or an engaging introduction to new traditions. All titles for primary readers and up were recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide at the time of their publication; reviews are reprinted from the Guide/Reviews Database. Board book reviews are original content.



Katz, Karen  My First Ramadan
32 pp. Holt 2007
Trade ISBN 978-0-8050-7894-7

A young Muslim boy describes the ways his family celebrates the holy month of Ramadan, explaining some of the rituals and symbols of the holiday. Straightforward, easy-to-read text and bright, friendly collage and mixed-media illustrations make this a solid, approachable resource for Muslim and non-Muslim children alike.

Khan, Hena  It’s Ramadan, Curious George
16 pp. Houghton 2016
Trade IBSN 978-0-544-65226-2

Illustrated by Mary O’Keefe Young. George participates in his friend Kareem’s family’s Ramadan celebrations, from the beginning until its end with the festival of Eid al-Fitr. This year is a special one for Kareem, who is fasting during daylight hours for the first time. It’s not easy, but Kareem succeeds. Kareem and George attend mosque, do good deeds, break fast with a delicious meal and prayers, and admire the crescent moon in rhyming text and textured, softly colored H. A. Rey–style illustrations. George is respectful of his friend’s observance of the holy month but maintains his customary playfulness, e.g., entertaining children by juggling cans at the mosque’s food drive.


Yuksel, M. O.  In My Mosque
40 pp. HarperCollins/Harper 2021
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-297870-7
Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-308944-0

Illustrated by Hatem Aly. "As-salaamu Alaykum!" Young readers are welcomed to a mosque brimming with faithful family, friends, and community. A child narrator tells us about the people, sights, and sounds encountered in their mosque; engaging digital illustrations incorporate scans of ink washes, textures, and patterns that add culturally meaningful detail to the colorful scenes. Both text and art convey some tenets of Islam and emphasize the mosque's role as a place for faith and celebration. An author's note provides some more information; an annotated list of historic mosques around the world might inspire further research. A glossary and source list are appended.



Addasi, Maha  Time to Pray
32 pp. Boyds 2010
Trade ISBN 978-1-59078-611-6

Illustrated by Ned Gannon. Translated by Nuha Albitar. In a bilingual English and Arabic text, Addasi's narrator describes her introduction to Muslim prayer rituals while visiting her grandmother in an unspecified Middle Eastern country. The information imparted about Islam will make this book valuable for many readerships. Rich-hued illustrations with patterned borders reflect the loving familial relationship.

Addasi, Maha  The White Nights of Ramadan
32 pp. Boyds 2008
Trade ISBN 978-1-59078-523-2

Illustrated by Ned Gannon. Noor and her brothers join their parents and grandparents in candy making, prayer, charity work, and a traditional nighttime walk to celebrate Girgian, when the moon is full, to mark the middle of Ramadan. Though the text is overly explanatory, sensory details enhance the story. The glowing illustrations, accomplished in color and shading, can be stiff. Glos.


Ali, A. E.  Our Favorite Day of the Year
40 pp. Simon/Salaam 2020
Trade ISBN 978-1-4814-8563-0
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-8564-7

Illus. by Rahele Jomepour Bell. On the first day of kindergarten, Musa finds himself seated at a table with three other children. Ms. Gupta explains that by the end of the year these strangers will be good friends, and one way they will all get to know one another is via show-and-tell sharing of their "favorite day." Her favorite day is the first day of school; Musa knows that his favorite day is the Muslim holiday at the end of Ramadan, Eid el-Fitr ("Surely Eid was everyone’s favorite day"). When it’s his turn for show-and-tell, Musa’s mother comes to class to share the foods, decorations, and traditions associated with Eid. The classmates at Musa’s table, in turn, share their favorite days: Rosh Hashanah, Las Posadas, and even Pi Day (March 14, natch). The illustrations, using "digital brushes and scanned, hand-printed textures," juxtapose each child’s family celebration of their favorite day alongside the class’s engagement with it, with attention to detail that gives each celebration specificity. Lush endpapers feature a textured quilt that stitches together squares representing different cultural celebrations. This warmhearted, inclusive story turns a simple act of show-and-tell into an opportunity to share identity and culture in a way that fosters curiosity and generosity toward difference. 

Bullard, Lisa  Rashad's Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr
24 pp. Millbrook 2012
Library ISBN 978-0-7613-5079-8
Paper ISBN 978-0-7613-8842-5

Illustrated by Holli Conger. Cloverleaf Books: Holidays and Special Days series. Rashad and his Muslim family observe Ramadan: "a time to get closer to Allah," a time for thinking about Allah and others. Rashad's first-person narration and bright, cheerful illustrations combine for a simple and accessible introduction to Islamic holy month; text boxes provide additional information. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.

Faruqi, Reem  Lailah's Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story
32 pp. Tilbury 2015
Trade ISBN 978-0-88448-431-8
Ebook ISBN 978-0-88448-432-5

Illustrated by Lea Lyon. When Lailah, a recent immigrant from Abu Dhabi, fasts for Ramadan for the first time, she's embarrassed to tell people at her new Georgia school. An empathetic librarian helps Lailah overcome her fear, and she shares a Ramadan poem with her class. The autobiographical author's note could have provided more substantive information, but the story should start conversation. Loose watercolors show a very contemporary Muslim girl.

Gilani-Williams, Fawzia  Nabeel's New Pants: An Eid Tale
24 pp. Cavendish 2010
Trade ISBN 978-0-7614-5629-2

Illustrated by Proiti Roy. For Eid (the Muslim celebration following Ramadan), shoemaker Nabeel buys new clothing for his family. He also buys fine-but-too-long-pants for himself. The shopkeeper doesn't have time to shorten them; neither, at first, do his wife, daughter, or mother — so Nabeel takes matters into his own hands. The amusing tale (an Indian import) is illustrated with bold gouache and India-ink paintings. Glos.

Heiligman, Deborah  Celebrate Ramadan & Eid Al-Fitr
32 pp. National Geographic 2006
Trade ISBN 0-7922-5926-2
Library ISBN 0-7922-5927-0

Holidays around the World series. These books use short, simple sentences and large, colorful, well-captioned photographs to explain each holiday's customs and traditions. Written with a global perspective in mind, the text's use of the "we" voice (rather than "they") makes the information seem more authentic and respectful. Recipes and an explanatory note from consultant Dr. Neguin Yavari are provided. Reading list, websites. Glos.

Gilani-Williams, Fawzia  Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam
24 pp. Kar-Ben 2017
Library ISBN 978-1-4677-8938-7
Paper ISBN 978-1-4677-9423-7
Ebook ISBN 978-1-5124-2717-2

Illustrated by Chiara Fedele. Gilani-Williams adapts a traditionally male-centered folktale with both Jewish and Arab roots to focus on a Jewish woman (Yaffa) and a Muslim woman (Fatima), who are neighbors and friends. Both women's daily lives reveal their similarities and their compassion, particularly during a poor harvest. Fedele's evocative illustrations use texture and color (mainly red, blue, and brown) to introduce a distant land and distinct cultures.

Gonzales, Mark  Yo Soy Muslim: A Father's Letter to His Daughter
32 pp. Simon/Salaam 2017
Trade ISBN 978-1-4814-8936-2
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-8937-9

Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. Gonzales pens a loving exhortation to his daughter to embrace her cultural identity. In simple, lyrical verse, Gonzales tells his daughter that not everyone will like who she is. He advises her to identify herself by her faith, ethnicity, and language, as well as reminding her--and us all--that the Islamic faith spans many nationalities and cultures. Rich, color-saturated illustrations incorporate vibrant patterns and motifs.

Husain, Shahrukh  The Wise Fool: Fables from the Islamic World
64 pp. Barefoot 2011
Trade ISBN 978-1-84686-226-7

Illustrated by Micha Archer. As explained in the informative introduction, stories about Mulla Nasruddin appear throughout the Islamic world. The twenty-two short tales presented here (in tiny font) always have a kernel of humanistic wisdom, whether the protagonist pronounces judgment upon the foolish behavior of others or even laughs at his own actions. Brightly patterned collages accompany the tales. A pronunciation guide is appended. Bib., glos.

J, Harris  Salam Alaikum: A Message of Peace
40 pp. Simon/Salaam 2017
Trade ISBN 978-1-4814-8938-6
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-8939-3

Illustrated by Ward Jenkins. The Islamic greetings "Salam Alaikum" (informal) and "Assalamu Alaikum" (formal), meaning "peace be upon you," provide the poetic refrain for this picture book comprised of lyrics to British Muslim singer Harris J's international hit. The messages regarding love, peace, and community are augmented by (somewhat overly) cartoonish digital illustrations showing a diverse urban community of adults and children helping one another. Music not included.

Jalali, Reza  Moon Watchers: Shirin's Ramadan Miracle
32 pp. Tilbury 2010
Trade ISBN 978-0-88448-321-2

Illustrated by Anne Sibley O'Brien. Squabbling siblings Ali and Shirin come to an accord during the course of the month-long Muslim holiday. Though the story's overly instructive tone can be irritating, libraries wanting to widen their picture book holdings about Muslim holidays may welcome this title. The illustrations show a multi-generational American family's celebration of this important festival.


Javaherbin, Mina  My Grandma and Me
40 pp. Candlewick 2019
Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-9494-4

Illustrated by Lindsey Yankey. The narrator recalls her childhood growing up in Iran. The child accompanies her grandma on her daily routines, including spending time with friends; as Grandma and her best friend laugh, drink coffee, and knit blankets for their mosque and church, respectively, the children (and readers) witness a beautiful interfaith friendship. Yankey's muted illustrations work well to convey cherished memories and love, with thoughtful cultural details incorporated throughout.

Khan, Hena  Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors
24 pp. Chronicle 2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-8118-7905-7

Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. A child describes the religious and cultural artifacts that define Islam for her family. Her grandfather wears a white kufi; she and her dad face Mecca on a red prayer rug. The book’s strength is in the saturated colors of the stylized art and the brief introduction to Muslim culture. The rhyming text is unremarkable, but this child’s view of Islam should prove useful. Glos.

Khan, Hena  Crescent Moon and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes
32 pp. Chronicle 2018
Trade ISBN 978-1-4521-5541-8

Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. Geometric shapes are compared, in simple rhyming stanzas, to shapes found in traditional Islamic architecture, art, and rituals. Minarets are cone-shaped, the Ka'aba is a cube, and so on. Mixed-media illustrations are ornate and richly colored; depicting a different country on each spread, the pictures showcase the ethnic diversity within Islam yet focus on traditional (and sometimes archaic) attire. An author's note is appended. Glos.

Khan, Hena  Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story
32 pp. Chronicle 2008
Trade ISBN 978-0-8118-6062-8

Illustrated by Julie Paschkis. This picture book provides an accessible, informative introduction to Ramadan, focusing on one girl's experiences of family, community, and tradition. A well-planned story arc, following the phases of the moon, gives shape to the tale. Paschkis's trademark deep-hued gouache illustrations with soft, flowing lines and decorated borders illuminate the thoughtfully designed pages. An author's note gives more information about Ramadan. Glos.

Lumbard, Rabiah York  The Gift of Ramadan
32 pp. Whitman 2019
Trade ISBN 978-0-8075-2906-5

Illustrated by Laura K. Horton. As Sophia's family prepares for Ramadan, she decides she wants to fast so her heart will feel "sparkly." This sincere yet wordy story, with colorful, culturally specific illustrations, pays homage to a Muslim family's gentle support of a child's first fast. The author's note emphasizes the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of fasting.

Matthews, Mary and Lewis, E. B.  Magid Fasts for Ramadan
48 pp. Clarion 1996
Trade ISBN 0-395-66589-2

An informative chapter book for young readers tells the story of an eight-year-old Muslim boy who secretly joins the ritual fast for Ramadan. Matthews skillfully weaves details of the culture and religion through her strong, readable story, set in modern Cairo. Lewis's handsome full-page watercolors give the viewer details about dress and customs while developing character and setting along with the text.

Mobin-Uddin, Asma  A Party in Ramadan
32 pp. Boyds 2009
Trade ISBN 978-1-59078-604-8

Illustrated by Laura Jacobsen. Leena is invited to a birthday party during Ramadan. Her mother is unsure, but Leena insists she'll be able to refuse refreshments. There's no real conflict in the wordy story, but it is informative. An appended author's note explains that young children don't have to fast but may choose to participate with their families. Pastel-pencil illustrations show a Muslim family in a contemporary suburb.


Shamsi, Shirin  The Moon from Dehradun: A Story of Partition
40 pp. Atheneum 2022
Trade ISBN 978-1-6659-0679-1
Ebook ISBN 978-1-6659-0680-7

Illustrated by Tarun Lak. When India is partitioned in 1947, Azra and her Muslim family members carefully plan their journey to Lahore, in what will be Pakistan, from their home in the Himalayan town of Dehradun in India. However, sudden violence calls for a hasty departure, and the family escapes, dinner still hot on the stove. In the chaos, Azra forgets her beloved doll, Gurya. Digital illustrations show caravans of families fleeing on foot and by crowded trains; the sequencing of several vignette illustrations on a double-page spread deftly captures the chaotic jumble of events. Upon reaching Lahore, where the new Pakistani flag waves, Azra's family moves into a house that, like theirs, was abandoned hastily, and Azra finds a doll under the bed. With a page-turn, a wordless image shows a Hindu family entering Azra's house and a little girl finding Azra's Gurya. A concluding split double-page spread, comfortingly, ­juxtaposes the two girls smiling at the dolls in their respective new homes. Back matter contains a map, a glossary, and further context about Partition. This child's perspective on a major twentieth-century instance of forced migration is rendered with both tenderness and urgency.


Taylor, Sean & Khayaal Theatre  Riding a Donkey Backwards: Wise and Foolish Tales of Mulla Nasruddin
48 pp. Candlewick 2019
Trade ISBN 978-1-5362-0507-7

Illustrated by Shirin Adl. Twenty-one pithy tales starring the pan-Muslim trickster figure Mulla Nasruddin challenge readers' perceptions. In one story, a man asks Nasruddin, standing on the opposite bank of a river, how he can cross to the other side. Nasruddin replies, "What a birdbrain...You are on the other side!" With his towering turban, expressive face, and fluffy cotton gravity-defying beard, Nasruddin will elicit giggles even as readers contemplate the puzzles he poses. Mixed-media illustrations incorporate paper, tissue, felt, yarn, sticks, beads, and more. Glos.


Tentler-Krylov, Victoria  Building Zaha: The Story of Architect Zaha Hadid
48 pp. Scholastic/Orchard 2020
Trade ISBN 978-1-338-28283-2
Ebook ISBN 978-1-338-67489-7

With fittingly bold, whimsical, flowing illustrations, this picture-book biography showcases Iraqi British architect Zaha Hadid, who "dreamed big and defied convention." Born in Baghdad in 1950, Hadid was an active, observant child, noticing the shifting "light and shadow play" in local palaces and mosques, and the "rippling harmony" between people and their environment in the Iraqi marshes--keen observations that would later inform her work. After studying math in Beirut, Hadid moved to London: "It was time to get serious about studying architecture." The daring young professional, who "reached for paints and brushes and conjured structures that tilted, swayed, and floated on air," was hired by two of her professors after graduation and also entered design competitions. Tentler-Krylov describes Hadid's confident persistence in the face of criticism ("she had to be tougher than most") and tracks her burgeoning career with vivid details (her fire station in Germany resembled "a bird taking flight"). Rendered with watercolor and digital tools, the illustrations exude energy and power. This stirring tribute to the "first woman, first Iraqi, first Muslim, and youngest person ever" to win the Pritzker Prize, architecture's highest award, includes an author's note, a timeline, a bibliography, and endpapers featuring photos of Hadid's most famous structures. Pair with Jeanette Winter's picture-book biography of Hadid, The World Is Not a Rectangle (rev. 9/17).


Thompkins-Bigelow, Jamilah  Abdul's Story
40 pp. Simon/Salaam 2022
Trade ISBN 978-1-5344-6298-4
Ebook ISBN 978-1-5344-6299-1

Illustrated by Tiffany Rose. Gregarious Abdul loves to tell stories to his classmates--as long as he does not have to write them down. Letters are confusing, and figuring out how to spell words is frustrating. Not to mention that the books he reads at school do not feature people who look like him or the people in his neighborhood: "Some stories are for books, Abdul decided, but not his." Then an author named Mr. Muhammad comes to visit his class. By encouraging the boy to focus on his ideas instead of on mechanics, Mr. ­Muhammad helps Abdul to unleash the writer inside of him. Abdul, who is Black and Muslim, is a relatable character not typically represented in similar narratives, and Mr. Muhammad, who is also Black, Muslim, and neurodivergent, offers encouragement as the caring adult who has learned to manage his own writing challenges. This is a story within a story, not just about the tales Abdul wants to write but also about his journey as a learner; exploring the topic of learning disabilities can be challenging, especially the social-emotional fallout for children who are struggling, but Thompkins-Bigelow accomplishes the task. Rose's lively and colorful illustrations are eye-pleasing and showcase diversity. This is an engaging story that not only offers empowerment but also models understanding and acceptance of learning differences.


Thompkins-Bigelow, Jamilah  Mommy's Khimar
40 pp. Simon/Salaam 2018
Trade ISBN 978-1-5344-0059-7
Ebook ISBN 978-1-5344-0060-3

Illustrated by Ebony Glenn. A young girl admires her mother and the bright khimars she uses to cover her head in observance of her Muslim faith. As she plays dress-up with her mother's yellow khimar, cheerful illustrations show the girl's imaginative play ("I am a superhero in a cape") and love for her family. A sweet family story with an affirming depiction of a black Muslim family in a supportive multicultural community.

Whitman, Sylvia  Under the Ramadan Moon
24 pp. Whitman 2008
Trade ISBN 978-0-8075-8304-3

Illustrated by Sue Williams. Filled with familial warmth and joy, this book describes, in lilting verse with a comforting refrain, Ramadan observances. Glowing, textured illustrations using gently rounded lines show a family engaged in holiday activities: spending time together, waiting for their day-long fast to end, preparing food, visiting relatives, attending services at a mosque. A worthy addition to any children's library.


Yuksel, M. O.  One Wish: Fatima Al-Fihri and the World's Oldest University
40 pp. HarperCollins/Harper 2022
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-303291-0

Illustrated by Mariam Quraishi. In a text rich with imagery, Yuksel (In My Mosque) tells the true story of Fatima ­al-Fihri, whose one wish was to build a school for all. But how? As a girl in early-ninth-century Tunisia who was tutored at home, Fatima did not know how to actualize such a grandiose vision. Then her family was forced to flee Tunisia due to war; they resettled as refugees in Fez, Morocco, where she eventually married. Upon the deaths of her father and husband, she decided to use her substantial inheritance to realize her dream and establish a school. After much planning, the al-Qarawiyyin Mosque (which, per the appended note, "functioned as a school from its inception" and is now the ­University of ­al-Qarawiyyin) opened, a place where all students, "especially the poor and the refugees, could live and study for free." Watercolor and gouache illustrations contrast bright colors with sandy tones of the landscape while revealing the school's distinctive architectural style, replete with spacious courtyards and arches adorned with mosaics. The illustrations develop their own visual language: Fatima's yellow dress and blue scarf are consistent through the book as she matures; future students don clothes that repeat the same patterns, linking past with present. Ample back matter includes a glossary; more information about ­al-Qarawiyyin, the oldest existing and continuously operating university in the world; and an author's note separating speculation from fact. A welcome story that emphasizes the intellectual foundations of Islamic North Africa and the importance of charitable work that plants seeds for subsequent generations.


Zalben, Jane Breskin  A Moon for Moe and Mo
48 pp. Charlesbridge 2018
Trade ISBN 978-1-58089-727-3
Ebook ISBN 978-1-63289-579-0

Illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. Brooklyn neighbors Moses (Moe) Feldman and Mohammad (Mo) Hassan meet while grocery shopping. One is Jewish and the other Muslim, but they look like twins and become great friends. Both text and illustrations mirror their similar experiences, emphasizing cultural and religious commonalities. Amini's multimedia collages combine photorealism, wild color combinations, and expressively stylized faces. Notes discuss Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan and include recipes for holiday treats.



Ahmed, Samira  Amira & Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds
368 pp. Little 2021
Trade ISBN 978-0-316-54046-9
Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-54049-0

Twelve-year-old Amira and her younger brother Hamza, Muslim Indian American siblings in Chicago, are the heroes of this suspenseful, action-packed adventure filled with jinn, ghuls, devs, and other supernatural creatures from Islamic folklore. When the children disturb an ancient artifact in a museum exhibit, two jinn appear, informing them that they are "chosen ones" needed for a serious mission. They must save Earth and Qaf (the jinn homeland) from Ifrit, a "terrible and cruel dev" intent on destroying both worlds. This is a refreshingly different take on the kids-must-save-the-world story in that Amira and Hamza are the most anxious, reluctant, and nerdy heroes ever. Constant clashes between the bickering siblings provide comic relief, in contrast with the seriousness of the task at hand. Dangerous encounters with monstrous foes challenge the two to believe in themselves and work together to fulfill their mission. Fantasy-adventure fans will have a hard time putting down this fast-paced and engaging tale. Author's note and glossary not seen.


Ali, S. K., and Saeed, Aisha, Eds.  Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices
272 pp. Abrams/Amulet 2020
Trade ISBN 978-1-4197-4083-1

Illus. by Sara Alfageeh This remarkably inclusive collection of short stories by fifteen Muslim authors showcases some of the many Muslim communities; cultural and familial traditions; and the universality of human experience against the backdrop of the celebration of Eid. Like their authors, the stories’ protagonists live in majority non-Muslim countries — in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Greece, the exception being Hanna Alkaf’s Malaysian character, Alia, in “Taste.” Stories range from simple celebrations of joy and navigating everyday conflicts to addressing loss and grief, but all are inextricably tied to community, identity, and faith. Protagonists’ experiences are inclusive of a variety of family structures, differing socioeconomic backgrounds, Shia Muslims, and recent converts to Islam. Though most stories are in prose, other formats include Alkaf’s tale in verse; a comic-format story by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Sara Alfageeh (who also designed the cover and frontispiece for each story in the collection); and a movingly powerful poem by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow celebrating the vivid imagery of Eid in the African American Muslim community—its history and connection to the memories and dreams of enslaved African Muslims. As a whole the collection captures the spirit and feelings of Eid as well as the many sensory elements: the collective “ameen” of a congregation of worshipers, the touch and rustle of Eid clothing, and the multitude of smells, sounds, and tastes that will resonate with Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike.

Genius of Islam by Bryn BarnardBarnard, Bryn  The Genius of Islam: How Muslims Made the Modern World
40 pp. Knopf 2011
Trade ISBN 978-0-375-84072-2
Library ISBN 978-0-375-94072-9

This volume surveys, via text and informative original paintings, the many technological and scientific advances made, refined, or dispersed during the "Islamic Golden Age." The seventh through twelfth centuries saw progress in medicine, agriculture, optics, music, machinery, etc., to which Barnard devotes twelve topically divided double-page spreads. Tidily colored illustrations, accompanied by good captions, offer helpful amplification of the subtopics. Reading list.

Demi  Muhammad
48 pp. McElderry 2003
Trade ISBN 0-689-85264-9

Demi tells the story of the prophet Muhammad, explaining the creation of Islam and the Koran. The illustrations are surprisingly lively given the restrictions placed on them (Islamic law states that Muhammad may not be depicted; Demi overcomes this by showing him as a gold silhouette). This timely book presents the origins of Islam with great respect, illuminating the subject for children and for adults. Bib.


Faruqi, Reem  Unsettled
352 pp. HarperCollins/Harper 2021
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-304470-8
Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-304472-2

Faruqi's evocative immigrant story in verse follows a young girl from the "land of the pure" to the "land of the free." Thirteen-year-old Nurah Haqq and her family move from Karachi, Pakistan, to Peachtree City, Georgia, seeking better opportunities. Nurah wrestles with her growing teenage insecurities, cultural and faith-based hurdles, and difficulty fitting in. As she observes the struggles and triumphs of her family, she begins to reshape her life. Each new section (e.g., "Uprooting," "Replanting"), decorated in floral henna patterns, reflects her state of mind. Slowly, the familiarity of math, art, and swimming as well as a blossoming friendship help her shed her hesitancy and embrace change. Though a lapse into jealousy leads to a poor decision, she learns to stand up for herself and others. Faruqi's expressive use of free verse folds many disparate ideas of friendship, sibling rivalry, bullying, and terrorism into an ultimately heartwarming story. While other ­Muslim stories in verse, such as Other Words for Home (rev. 7/19) by Jasmine Warga and The Red Pencil (rev. 11/14) by Andrea Davis Pinkney, deal with immigrant refugees, Faruqi focuses on privileged immigrants whose model minority status doesn't insulate them from hate crime and Islamophobia. Nurah's coming-of-age story will inspire ­readers to step into their own light.


Faruqi, Saadia  A Thousand Questions
320 pp. HarperCollins/Quill Tree 2020
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-294320-0
Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-294322-4

Issues of home and belonging form the cornerstones of Faruqi’s (author of the Yasmin early chapter books) first solo middle-grade novel. Mimi and her mother (her father left the family when Mimi was very young) are on a “forced vacation” from Houston to Pakistan to visit Mimi’s only-seen-on-Skype grandparents. There she meets Sakina, the family cook’s daughter, who dreams of a future that hinges on passing an English test to secure admission to school. The girls’ initial hesitation gives way to a tentative friendship through summer afternoons spent learning English and Urdu, tasting mangoes, dealing with errant centipedes, and exploring Karachi together. Mimi, already at odds with her mother, is privy to Mom’s prickly relationship with her own parents, and the family drama is heightened as secrets about Mimi’s father are revealed. Told through the girls’ alternating points of view, the novel examines contemporary urban Pakistan in all its complexity. Faruqi threads issues of privilege, poverty, democracy, and the meaning of family throughout the book. She manages to convey the realities of Sakina’s hardscrabble life and Mimi’s sense of abandonment without being heavy-handed. The author’s note and glossary give a sense of Faruqi’s personal connection to the city and its characters.

Hoyt-Goldsmith, Diane  Celebrating Ramadan
32 pp. Holiday 2001
Trade ISBN 0-8234-1581-3

Photographs by Lawrence Migdale. The experience of fourth-grader Ibraheem is used to focus a picture of religious and cultural tradition as expressed in a major holiday. The author and photographer do an equable job of conveying Ramadan's rituals, obligations, and joys. They provide general information about Islamic practices in the United States and some history of the faith. Glos., ind.

Jeffrey, Laura S.  Celebrate Ramadan
112 pp. Enslow 2007
Library ISBN 978-0-7660-2774-9

Celebrate Holidays series. Captioned photographs, maps, drawings, and sidebars combine with accessible text to present a thorough discussion of Ramadan in this series entry. Jeffrey explains the origin of the holiday then describes traditional observances and modern-day celebrations, including some personal family stories and simple activities.

Khan, Ausma Zehenat  Ramadan: The Holy Month of Fasting
87 pp. Orca Origins 2018
Trade ISBN 978-1-4598-1181-2
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4598-1183-6

This introduction to Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and prayer, balances information with personal stories and uses a variety of visual storytelling techniques (sidebars, pull-out quotes, recipes). Mindfulness of cultural nuances ("there really is no such thing as a single 'Muslim world'"); a chatty, down-to-earth narrative voice; and an attractive, photo-heavy design make the volume both informative and engaging. Reading list, websites. Glos., ind.

Khan, Hena  Amina's Voice
197 pp. Simon/Salaam 2017
Trade ISBN 978-1-4814-9206-5
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-9208-9

Since she started middle school, shy Amina struggles with self-consciousness about her Muslim Pakistani American identity. Meanwhile, her conservative uncle objects to her singing and piano playing, and the local Islamic Center is vandalized. A relatable portrayal of a tween who wants to fit in and who's devoted to her faith even amid her confusion about her family's varied approaches to it.

Khan, Hena  More to the Story
262 pp. Simon/Salaam 2019
Trade ISBN 978-1-4814-9209-6
Ebook ISBN

In a Little Women-inspired novel, thirteen-year-old Jameela lives with her Muslim family in Atlanta. This Eid holiday their beloved father is away; a (good-looking) nephew of a family friend visits; and Jameela butts heads with her school newspaper's editor, who never approves her hard-hitting pitches. Then her sister is diagnosed with cancer, and Jameela must reevaluate her priorities. This modern-day Pakistani American family-story retains the charm, familial warmth, and appeal of Alcott's classic.

Khan, Rukhsana  Muslim Child: Understanding Islam through Stories and Poems
104 pp. Whitman 2002
Trade ISBN 0-8075-5307-7

Illustrated by Patty Gallinger. Short stories, excerpts from the Koran, poems, and one-page topical features focus on the experience of Muslim children (mainly in Western nations). While the stories are fairly pedantic, the book provides a nonpolitical glimpse into the culture and offers Muslim children moral guidance. In addition to black-and-white drawings, repetitive sidebars explain Islamic concepts and Arabic words. A pronunciation guide is appended.

Riazi, Karuna  The Gauntlet
298 pp. Simon/Salaam 2017
Trade ISBN 978-1-4814-8696-5
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-8698-9

On her twelfth birthday, Muslim girl Farah receives a board game that sucks her, her younger brother, and her friends inside. There, they must solve timed puzzles or be trapped forever. The fast-paced adventure plot could easily dominate the novel (which is part Jumanji, part Bangladeshi fairy tale) but is instead balanced with Farah's love for her brother and friends and her sense of compassion.

Tarnowska, Wafa’  The Arabian Nights
128 pp. Barefoot 2010
Trade ISBN 978-1-84686-122-2

Illustrated by Carole Hénaff. This edition of the traditional tales will captivate older middle-grade audiences; murder and infidelity are common themes, woven together with stories of genies and magicians. The Scheherazade framework isn’t as engaging as the actual tales, and the font of those sections is difficult to read. The volume’s best feature is its lovely, detail-rich, color-saturated acrylic illustrations that incorporate traditional motifs. Glos.


Trebinčević, Kenan & Shapiro, Susan  World in Between: Based on a True Refugee Story
384 pp. HarperCollins/Clarion 2021
Trade ISBN 978-0-358-43987-5
Ebook ISBN 978-0-358-44093-2

Eleven-year-old Kenan Trebinčević is growing up in Brčko, Bosnia, in 1992. He enjoys his life--home, friends at school, soccer--but as Muslims living in a divided Yugoslavia, he and his family are in danger. Serbs control the military and see Bosnian Muslims as rebels and traitors. Kenan's friends begin to taunt him at school. Then there is violence in the streets (including a horrifying scene in which his teacher holds a gun to Kenan's head); homes are burned; entire families are shot. With Serbs having wiped out the family's bank account, the Trebinčevićs are penniless; they have no running water; and food is scarce. Kenan doesn't understand: "But we're all Yugoslavians. How could our own people be hunting us like animals?" Kenan's family decides to escape from Bosnia, and a nerve-wracking odyssey ensues through dangerous checkpoints to Vienna and on to America. Scenes come alive through the first-person voice and abundant dialogue. This "Muslim-Jewish collaboration" between authors Trebinčević and Shapiro follows after their joint effort on The Bosnia List (2014), an adult memoir. This is a long, intricately detailed narrative that effectively weaves in enough historical background to make events understandable for young readers. (Per an appended author's note: "All the historical events are true. Some names, dates, and details have been condensed or changed to protect privacy, and for literary reasons.")


Venkatraman, Padma  Born Behind Bars
272 pp. Penguin/Paulsen 2021
Trade ISBN 978-0-593-11247-2
Ebook ISBN 978-0-593-11248-9

Born in prison in Chennai, India, to a Hindu mother falsely accused of stealing from her employer, Kabir has known only a harsh life behind bars. Upon his ninth birthday, he is released to the outside world. He wants nothing more than to find his Appa's (father's) family in the neighboring state of Bengaluru (Bangalore). All Kabir knows of his father is that he is Muslim; Appa didn't tell anyone of his marriage to Amma; and he stopped writing to them after he left India to work in the Gulf. When Kabir befriends Rani, a Kurava (Roma) girl, they team up to find Kabir's paternal grandparents, and the pace of the plot quickens. Short chapters and paragraphs guide the story to its bittersweet conclusion for both Rani and Kabir. As in The Bridge Home (rev. 1/19), Venkatraman portrays children's experiences of poverty and other social issues; here, she explores Hindu-Muslim animosity, how the Indian caste ­system predetermines social status, and how biased institutions interact with (and ultimately fail) those of lower caste. This earnest, heartfelt adventure will transport many readers to a different setting while guiding them to draw parallels with contexts closer to home. An author's note addresses the Roma community in India, water shortages, and incarceration rates in relation to caste.


Warga, Jasmine  Other Words for Home
342 pp. HarperCollins/B+B 2019
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-274780-8
Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-274782-2

When military fighting comes dangerously near their Syrian hometown, Jude and her mother leave their home and family for the U.S. Jude's voice throughout this verse novel is authentic, infused with thoughtfulness, humor, determination, and hope. Her adjustment period upon arrival in America offers a realistic portrait of the strength it takes to move to a new country, as well as of the complicated dynamics between first- and second-generation immigrants. Websites. Glos.

Zia, Farhana  The Garden of My Imaan
230 pp. Peachtree 2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-56145-698-7

Aliya, a Muslim, wends her way through the typical middle-school struggles until another Muslim girl moves to town and challenges Aliya's assumptions about the importance of fitting in. The characters are sometimes a bit flat, but Zia's exploration of Aliya's faith, confidence, and social anxieties feels authentic and gives readers a comfortable place to develop their understanding of another culture. Glos.



Ahmed, Samira  Love, Hate & Other Filters
281 pp. Soho Teen 2018
Trade ISBN 978-1-61695-847-3
Ebook ISBN 978-1-61695-848-0

High-school senior Maya, daughter of a Muslim Indian-American family in suburban Chicago, longs to find her own romantic partner and attend NYU film school, in defiance of her parents. Her family problems are also affected by increasing hate crimes against Muslims after 9/11. Maya's convincing first-person narrative touches on intercultural teen dating, school life, generational conflict, and current social issues.

Albertalli, Becky, and Saeed, Aisha  Yes No Maybe So
440 pp. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray 2020
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-293704-9  
Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-293705-6

In alternating chapters, teens Maya (a Muslim girl) and Jamie (a Jewish boy) narrate a story set amidst a longshot Georgia state senate campaign. Pushed by their politically progressive moms into canvassing together, they continue the work longer than expected — mostly because they believe in the cause (their candidate’s opponent supports a bill that would restrict head and facial coverings, and though Maya doesn’t wear hijab, her mother does) — but also because they enjoy each other’s company. Jamie’s cousin, who’s the candidate’s assistant campaign manager, complicates matters with his eagerness to exploit anything that might make the campaign go viral, including the pair’s awkwardly burgeoning romance and the vandalism of Jamie’s car with a white-supremacy sticker. Albertalli and Saeed work the above concerns naturally into a mostly light rom-com, along with elements of both characters’ religions: Jamie’s family is in prep mode for his sister’s bat mitzvah, while Maya fasts for Ramadan for much of the book and struggles with her parents’ reservations about her dating, either outside the faith or at all until she’s older. Though the ending is hopeful, the novel leaves much unresolved, allowing its characters and their emotions to stay complicated.


Ali, S. K.  Love from A to Z
342 pp. Simon/Salaam 2019
Trade ISBN 978-1-5344-4272-6
Ebook ISBN

Zayneb, a Muslim American high-school senior, leaves early for spring break in Doha, Qatar, after writing a "threatening" note about her Islamophobic teacher. Adam, a Muslim Canadian college freshman, is returning to Doha to see his father and sister, with unfortunate news. Their connection: each has been keeping a journal based on an ancient book they'd both discovered. Ali has created an unforgettable couple in a deftly drawn setting in this welcome halal love story.

Ali, S. K.  Saints and Misfits
328 pp. Simon/Salaam 2017
Trade ISBN 978-1-4814-9924-8
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-9926-2

After hijab-wearing sophomore Janna Yusuf is assaulted by a "monster" who presents himself as a pillar of the Muslim community, she resigns herself to silence. But his continued harassment leads friends and family to join her attacker in expressing criticism, and Janna reaches her breaking point. Ali brings to life a nuanced intersection of culture, identity, and independence.

Ali-Karamali, Sumbul  Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam
214 pp. Delacorte 2012
Trade ISBN 978-0-385-74095-1
Library ISBN 978-0-375-98977-3

Ali-Karamali balances facts, personal experience, and thoughtful discussion in this accessible introduction to Islam, written in an easygoing, occasionally humor-sparked style. Explanations of rules and practices lead naturally into good summations of Muhammad's life, the religion's spread, the plurality of Muslim expression, and distinctions between universals and varieties of interpretation; this will serve for both personal reading and research. Bib., ind.

Aslan, Reza  No god but God: The Origins and Evolution of Islam
167 pp. Delacorte 2011
Trade ISBN 978-0-385-73975-7
Library ISBN 978-0-385-90805-4

In this abridgment of his 2005 adult book, Aslan here provides an admirable synthesis of Muslim history and religious belief, paying special attention to the life and times of the Prophet. The writing is clear and engaging, and the author makes links to current concerns (jihad, the hijab) in a way that is respectful to both believers and to young readers. Timeline. Bib., glos., ind.

Deracine, Anat  Driving by Starlight
280 pp. Holt/Godwin 2018
Trade ISBN 978-1-250-13342-7

In post–Arab Spring Saudi Arabia, Leena and her best friend Mishail delight in small rebellions against their male-controlled, religiously strict society. But Leena's flippancy soon falls away to reveal the precariousness of both girls’ lives. In a growing oeuvre centering on experiences of young Muslim women, Deracine's debut stands out for its nuanced characterization and twisting plot. Arabic vocabulary and Saudi cultural concepts are explained for outsiders without bogging down the prose. Glos.


Elhillo, Safia  Home Is Not a Country
224 pp. Random/Make Me a World 2021
Trade ISBN 978-0-593-17705-1
Library ISBN 978-0-593-17706-8
Ebook ISBN 978-0-593-17707-5

Elhillo's strikingly original novel in searingly honest, staccato verse, nearly all in lowercase, showcases the difficult realities of working-class immigrant families. Nima is a sensitive Muslim teenager, daughter of an immigrant mother, whose life is marked by the absence of a father she never knew, of friends (except one), and of belonging and feeling at home. Haunted by "sepia"-tinted memories "of a country i've never seen / outside a photograph," bullied at school, and excluded by her Arabic-speaking peers, she grapples with a series of what-ifs. A "nostalgia monster" hungry for old photographs and retro Arabic music and films, Nima yearns for a different life, one lived in her imagination as her "ghost self," Yasmeen. When her only friend is hospitalized after a hate crime, she goes into a tailspin. In a magical realism sequence, she encounters corporeal Yasmeen and travels through space and time to see her parents together, uncovering truths that help recalibrate her life. While Elhillo's novel draws on her Sudanese heritage, she leaves the family's country of origin unnamed. Her richly imagined settings bring into sharp focus the nuances of a fractured identity in many diasporic communities. An immersive experience of the intersectionality of gender, class, race, religion, and identity.

Farizan, Sara  If You Could Be Mine
247 pp. Algonquin 2013
Trade ISBN 978-1-61620-251-4

Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend Nasrin for years. But the girls live in Iran, where their love is illegal. Farizan imbues characters and relationships with depth and complexity. First love is the heart of the matter here; even as readers learn about an unfamiliar culture, they will recognize the universal dynamics of a struggling relationship.


Jaigirdar, Adiba  The Henna Wars
400 pp. Page Street 2020
Trade ISBN 978-1-62414-968-9

Nishat is a Bengali Muslim teen attending a conservative Catholic school in Dublin. When she comes out as lesbian to her parents, she is met with near-silence. Meanwhile, Nishat creates a henna business for a school competition, and her longtime crush Flávia (an Afro-Brazilian Irish classmate) complicates things by creating a rival business. As the competition heats up, so do the young women’s feelings for each other. Their will-they-or-won’t-they? romance will keep readers engrossed. Jaigirdar’s debut novel features realistically complex queer girls of color at its center and honestly addresses the conflicts they face as such — micro- and macro-agressions, hitting up against family traditions while trying to pursue one’s own desires and wants — though always standing in Nishat’s corner is her supportive sister Priti, who offers the approval the protagonist longs for from her family. All major conflicts are tied up, and probably most touching of all is the hopeful understanding that Nishat and her family reach.


Karim, Sheba  Mariam Sharma Hits the Road
310 pp. HarperTeen 2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-244573-5
Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-244575-9

After a scandalous modeling photo of Ghazala appears on a Times Square billboard, the NYU student and her friends Mariam and Umar go on a road trip to New Orleans to decompress. In this humorous and hard-hitting new-adult novel, the South Asian Muslim Americans confront Islamophobia in the Deep South and take on personal issues such as locating an absent parent and reconciling Islam with homosexuality.

Karim, Sheba  That Thing We Call a Heart
279 pp. HarperTeen 2017
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-244570-4

Shabnam, a secularized Pakistani American girl excited to go off to college, lost her friendship with Farah when Farah started wearing the hijab. The two reconnect over the summer, but Shabnam's romance with non-Muslim boy Jamie concerns Farah. Shabnam's father's love for Urdu poetry and Sufism adds further interest to this affecting coming-of-age story that realistically portrays the diversity of the U.S. Muslim community.

Mafi, Tahereh  A Very Large Expanse of Sea
313 pp. HarperTeen 2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-06-286656-1
Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-286658-5

Just after 9/11, Iranian American teen Shirin is jaded by the Islamophobic attitudes of classmates who see her as either "the Taliban" or "an exotic specimen." She copes by intimidating others with her acerbic wit and by stereotyping white Americans--until she falls for the star of the boys' basketball team. A quirky, broadly appealing romance that also explores white privilege, microaggressions, and the effects of stereotyping on young Muslim women.

Muhammad, Ibtihaj  Proud: Living My American Dream: Young Readers Edition
291 pp. Little 2018
Trade ISBN 978-0-316-47700-0
Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-47701-7

Muhammad details her journey from discovering fencing in a New Jersey high school to the 2016 Olympics, where she was the first American Olympian to wear a hijab. Her story is inspiring and worthy, and Muhammad maintains an upbeat tone, even through somber moments involving racism she's seen as a black Muslim in a predominantly white sport. A color-photo insert, advice, and author Q&A are included. Glos.


Sabic-El-Rayess, Amra, with Laura L. Sullivan  The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival
384 pp. Bloomsbury 2020
Trade ISBN 978-1-5476-0453-1
Ebook ISBN 978-1-5476-0455-5

This suspenseful memoir, set between 1992 and 1998, opens just before the author’s northwestern Bosnian town of Bihać is changed by war. Serbians (who’ve had warning) evacuate overnight, schools and businesses abruptly close, and the town’s remaining Muslim population is under siege by Serbian soldiers. Amidst this turmoil, a stray calico cat follows sixteen-year-old Amra home. Amra calls the stray Maci, the Bosnian word for cat, and the cat comforts and even, in a sense, protects Amra: for instance, because she chases Maci on the way home from school, Amra avoids a sniper attack. Amra comes to believe the cat is a guardian angel or benevolent spirit. She details her family’s gradual decline, as they endure poverty and malnutrition under siege for three years, and finally her own move to the U.S. on an academic scholarship. Though she never shies away from difficult topics such as the threat of rape, feeling forgotten by the international community, or post-war corruption, she always brings the story back to Maci, a metaphor for love that “never dies” and “withstands distance and time.” This fast-paced, touching memoir reminds readers of the significance of the Balkan ethnic war and places it into a larger conversation about the ways in which ethnically and religiously diverse societies are under threat from extremism and bigotry. An author’s note and resource list encourage further engagement.

Sarn, Amélie  I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister
153 pp. Delacorte 2014
Trade ISBN 978-0-385-74376-1
Library ISBN 978-0-375-99128-8
Ebook ISBN 978-0-385-37020-2

Translated by Y. Maudet. A year after Djelila's brutal murder, Sohane recalls her loving, difficult relationship with her beautiful younger sister. When a gang of boys from their French housing project accuses Djelila of shaming Islam, Sohane is fearful. Djelila laughs them off — then tragedy strikes. Based loosely on a true incident, Sarn's poignant novel is a coming-of-age story about the uniquely powerful bond between sisters. Glos.

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Emily Schneider

Please do not forget another wonderful book with illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini and text by Jane Breskin Zalben, A Moon for Moe and Mo:

Posted : May 06, 2019 07:16



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