Grown-ups usually have no problem getting into the spirit of Ramadhan, what with all the planning and preparations to do. But children may not always get what all the hustle and bustle is about. To introduce them to Ramadhan, its traditions, and to get them into festive spirit I prepared a list of our favourite Ramadhan reads. I hope it can inspire and enlighten your little ones too, insha Allah.
Ramadan Moon by Na’ima B Robert illustrated by Shirin Adl is a beautiful lyrical story that perfectly captures the excitement and anticipation for the holy month. The story told both in words and in lovely collage illustrations follows a family as they first await the appearance of the Ramadan moon, they rejoice at as it starts and with it all its beautiful rituals and they watch the moon changing, marking the passing of the month. At last Eid comes and the celebrations begin, but this festive time is tinged with sorrow for the blessed month that is passed and would have to be waited for the whole next year. The book is a great introduction to Ramadhan traditions even for the little children, but will surely attract older kids as well. In my family it is one of the favourite Ramadhan reads.
Under the Ramadan Moon by Sylvia Whitman illustrated by Sue Williams is another poetic story of Ramadhan. Similarly to Ramadan Moon it depicts a family first anticipating and then celebrating the holy month. The text here is very short with repeating verses: “Under the moon, under the moon, under the Ramadan moon”, but together with lovely warm illustrations it makes a really nice read.
The Little Green Drum by Taghreed Najjar (retold in English by Lucy Coats) illustrated by Hassan Manasrah is a unique Ramadhan story published as an early reader chapter book. It tells a story of Samia and her dad Yaba, who has a very important job of waking people up for Suhoor during the month of Ramadhan. Samia wishes she could become a Dawn Waker-Upper herself, but no girl ever did this job. But then one year Yaba falls ill just as Ramadhan is about to start, so Samia bravely fulfils his duty banging at her little green drum and waking up all the people from the village. There is lots of drama and fun in this book and my daughters love it time after time. The illustrations are lovely and the repetitive sound of the drum “Boom-A-Boom” makes it so much fun to read. For older children you can read the information at the end of the book, where it is explains that Samia’s story took place a long time ago in a Palestinian village before the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, when the villagers had to flee and were never allowed to return to their homes. The author’s family come from that village and the book has been written in memory of the peaceful and happy times.
The Month of Ramadan by Ismaeel Beaumont is a short book explaining what Ramadhan is and what fasting means through questions that little Zakariyyah asks his dad and his dad answers. It is unique as it is written both in English and Arabic to help children learn the language. The book has pretty, bright illustrations and is visually very attractive, even though the stylized font of Arabic text may be a bit hard to read for beginners. It introduces the traditions of Ramadan such as tarawih prayer and is a great starting point for discussion. There are also comprehension questions at the end of the book that some children might like to answer.
Ramadan: The Month of Fasting by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan is a book that explains the meaning and importance of Ramadhan that goes beyond fasting. It is not a story, but rather important facts and lessons about Ramadhan and so I feel that it might be more attractive and suitable for children age seven and up. It has some beautiful illustrations and because important lessons here are divided into chunks, it makes a great book for sharing with older children and discussing the true spirit of the holy month.
Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns – A Muslim Book of Colours by Hena Khan illustrated by Mehrdokht Amimi is not a Ramadhan book as such, but it has a festive feeling about it and it also describes some of Ramadhan and Eid traditions, so I think it makes a great read for the holy month. It is a book of colours and each colour here is a representation of a certain part of deen: red is a prayer rug, brown are dates eaten during Ramadan, green is the cover of the Holy Quran, purple is the Eid gift, golden are domes on the mosque and silver are fanoos lanterns. The illustrations in the book are truly outstanding and it is a great addition to any child’s library to be read all year round, but perhaps a little more often during Ramadhan.
Ilyas and Duck and the Fantastic Festival of Eid-al-Fitr by Omar S. Khawaja illustrated by Leo Antolini is again not a Ramadhan book, but then Eid-al-Fitr is something we all, and especially children, look forward to during the month of fasting. The book’s character Ilyas and his best friend Duck don’t really know what to do when they see the new moon marking the end of Ramadhan, but they soon find out. The book has lovely illustrations, it is funny and informative and it also teaches a lesson on the traditions of other faiths as Duck tries to decorate the house first with Christmas tree and then with a menorah.
Allah to Z: Activity Book. Islamic Activities for Ramadan and All Year Long by Sam’n Iqbal has some great ideas what to do during Ramadhan, how to decorate house for Eid and learn Arabic alphabet in a fun way. Some of my favourites are Laylat al-Qadr Jar of Light and Oreo Lunar Calendar. If you are short of inspiration for how to keep kids occupied during the long summer fasts this book is sure to help.
There is yet another Ramadhan book that I haven’t read yet, as its UK release date is 13th of June, but my daughters and I are really looking forward to this Ramadhan treat – It’s Ramadan, Curious George by Hena Khan, in’sha’Allah. Children everywhere love Curious George and it’s great to see a Ramadhan book featuring this character.
Klaudia Khan is a Muslim writer living with her husband and three daughters in the UK.