I found today’s Perfect Picture Book at a lovely, local independent book store in Hoboken, NJ, Little City Books, when I was attending an author’s visit. Although I generally don’t review board books, I couldn’t resist the colorful cover and, knowing that Ramadan begins next week, I thought this is a Perfect Picture Book to help explain this important month of fasting and prayer to young children.
Written By: Hannah Eliot
Illustrated By: Rashin
Publisher/date: Little Simon (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division)/April 2018
Suitable for Ages: 2-4 (and older)
Themes/Topics: Islam; #WNDB; Ramadan; celebration; non-fiction
In the ninth month of the year, when the crescent moon first appears in the sky, it’s time to celebrate Ramadan!
Brief Synopsis: A non-fiction explanation of the Muslim celebration of Ramadan from a child’s perspective.
Links to Resources:
- Discover 30 crafts for kids to celebrate each day of Ramadan at a wonderful blog and website, A Crafty Arab;
- A Crafty Arab also has created a Ramadan lantern 30-day printable, that even young children can use to help visual the passage of days during this celebration;
- Check out the United Religions Initiative Guide to World Religions for Kids, including information about Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and other religions.
Why I Like this Book:
Ramadan is the first in a new board book series from Little Simon, Celebrate the World, which highlight “celebrations across the world.” In her upbeat, cultural exploration of Ramadan, Eliot focuses on the aspects of the holiday that I think will resonate with young children without delving into dogma. While Eliot notes that we “pray”, no deity is mentioned nor are there any references to a mosque or other places of worship. Instead, the text moves joyously through the “special month” that Eliot’s narrators clearly enjoy, from the first sighting of the crescent moon, through the Eid al-Fitr, or “Sweet Feast”, when Ramadan ends. Eliot helpfully focuses on the aspects of Ramadan, such as fasting and eating only while it is dark outside, that kids will notice, and ask about. As she does so, Eliot highlights “what is most important to us”: family, prayer and good deeds.
Eliot’s text provides a wonderful introduction to Ramadan and is suitable for practicing Muslims and people of other faiths (or no faith) who want to introduce their children to this important religious holiday. Rashin’s colorful illustrations bring this board book to another level. Rather than focusing on one family in one place, Rashin fills Ramadan with families from across the world, including families of color and families of differing social backgrounds. I especially enjoyed the spread, shown below, of a family enjoying suhoor, the meal before dawn, in a suburban home, complete with pet dog, and a family breaking fast at their iftar, in their tented home, complete with a cat.
A Note about Craft:
Eliot introduces Ramadan to young children by inviting them into the celebration through her focus on what “we” do. Use of the inclusive “we” is furthered via Rashin’s choice (or perhaps the choice of an editor) to focus not just on one family but on many families throughout the world.
Check out Eliot’s Author’s Page.
Among many other awards for her illustrations, Iranian-born and educated, US-based Rashin Kheiriyeh, the illustrator/author of 70 children’s books, was a 2017 Sendak Fellow. Visit her website to view more of her work, and check out a 2017 interview on Kathy Temean’s blog. See also my review of her 2013 picture book, Two Parrots.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!