As Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, draws to a close, I think it’s a perfect time to review today’s Perfect Picture Book.
Title: In My Mosque
Written By: M.O. Yuksel
Illustrated By: Hatem Aly
Publisher/Date: Harper Collins Children’s Books/2021
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: Islam, worship, diversity, #OwnVoices
In my mosque, we are a rainbow of colors and speak in different accents. As-salaamu alaykum – I greet my friends and newcomers too. Everyone is welcome here.
Brief Synopsis: A diverse group of children explores their mosques and welcomes others to explore with them.
Links to Resources:
- Do you have a favorite place you visit? Describe with words and/or pictures what you do in that special location;
- If you attend services or classes at a church, synagogue, temple, or other place of worship, describe in words or pictures how it’s the same as or different from a mosque;
- Enjoy this coloring page;
- Find more resources, including an interview with Yuksel about creating In My Mosque at Teaching Books.
Why I Like this Book:
From the first spread to the final spread of In My Mosque, readers learn that “everyone” is “welcome here”. Featuring a diverse cast of smiling children and their adults, readers follow along as children prepare for worship, hear “stories of living in harmony,” told by the imam, pray standing “shoulder to shoulder” with friends, and sometimes even “get distracted.” In addition to worshipping in mosques, readers also see that charity and community are important features. One character exclaims that “I hope it’s never time to leave!” Seeing the joy on everyone’s faces, it’s understandable why they want to stay.
I consider myself fortunate to have visited one of the famous mosques listed in the back matter, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. I recall feeling overwhelmed by the beauty and vastness of the space and filled with peace, akin to the feeling I had when I first visited Notre Dame in Paris. That Yuksel mentions other places of worship, churches, temples, and synagogues, is important, I think, especially as she also adds that in mosques, as in those others, “we pray for peace, love, and joy”.
Aly’s vibrant illustrations are filled with smiling faces of all shapes and colors and intricate tile work that visitors would find in mosques. Pigeons are visible in several spreads – young children will enjoy searching for them.
Informative back matter that includes further information about mosques generally, a glossary, and a listing of some famous and historic mosques rounds out In My Mosque, making it a wonderful choice for homes, classrooms, and libraries.
A Note about Craft:
In My Mosque is a concept book that explores the many facets of mosques, the Muslim places of worship. To help render this topic kid friendly and interesting to both adults and children, Yuksel and Aly feature a diverse cast of children and their adults so that readers can picture themselves in the mosques. Interestingly, the title uses first-person singular rather than plural, even though each of the children featured is a narrator. I think Yuksel, or perhaps the editor, chose to use the singular pronoun to help connect readers to each narrator in turn, to help it seem like we’re receiving a guided tour from one child.
Nowhere in the text does Yuksel mention that males and females worship separately. But she shows these parallel worshipers in alternating spreads. Even when it isn’t clear from the text whether it’s males or females worshiping, Aly continues the pattern and shows either boys, or girls, in each spread.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!