Celebrating Ramadan: Own Voices Books for This Religious Holiday

Ramadan, the holy ninth of the Islamic calendar, began this week and Muslims around the world will observe with charitable deeds, daily fasting and special prayers. There ‘s not much I know about this religious holiday and or about Muslim/Islamic culture altogether. But I am trying to educate myself by reading about books so I can have a better understanding without making assumptions.

If you are looking to go a similar route, I have listed some great book recommendations that are great conversation starters for you and your family to have together, whether you observe the holiday or not. The first step towards the fight against racism and prejudice is empathy and understanding and reading these books are a great start:

Children Books

The Gift of Ramadan by Rabiah York Lumbard and illustrated by Laura Horton 

Sophia wants to fast for Ramadan this year. She tries to keep busy throughout the day so she won’t think about food. But when the smell of cookies is too much, she breaks her fast early. How can she be part of the festivities now? (Credit: Albert Whitman Company)

Zara’s New Eid Dress by Nafisah Abdul-Rahim

Zara loves all the festivities of Ramadan and Eid. She enjoys visiting with her friends at the mosque and sampling delicious foods from around the world. But one of her favorite things is shopping for her Eid dress.

In past years, she wore similar outfits as her friends from different ethnic backgrounds. This year, she wants something uniquely her own. Zara envisions a dress that represents her heritage and her style, a reflection of her culture as an African American Muslim. (Credit: Archway Publishing)

The White Nights of Ramadan by Maha Addasi and illustrated by Ned Gannon

Mid-Ramadan is a special time for families in the Arabian (Persian) Gulf. These middle days are known as “the three whites,” because they include the day of the full moon, the day before, and the day after. It’s a time when children, dressed in traditional clothes, go from house to house collecting treats from their neighbors. When Noor sees the full moon rising, signaling the coming of Girgian, she and her brothers prepare for the fun. Together, they decorate the bags they’ll carry to collect the candies. But along with the fun, Noor remembers the true meaning of Ramadan: spending time with family and sharing with those less fortunate. (Credit: Boyds Mills Press)

Hannah and the Ramadan Gift by Qasim Rashid and illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel

Expected Publication Date: April 20th

It’s the first day of Ramadan and Hannah wants to be a part of this important month every way she can. But if she’s too young to fast, how can she observe Ramadan? By saving the world, Dada Jaan tells her. And so Hannah learns that by helping her friends and neighbors and by showing kindness and generosity, she can make the world a better place. (Credit:  Viking Books for Young Readers)

Ramadan: The Holy Month of Fasting by Ausma Zehanat Khan

The month of Ramadan offers the opportunity to improve one’s personal and spiritual behavior. By focusing on positive thoughts and actions, Muslims build a closer connection with God and come away from the month feeling spiritually renewed. Ramadan: The Holy Month of Fasting explores an event of great spiritual significance and beauty in the lives of Muslims. (Credit: Orca Book Publishers)

My First Book About Ramadan by Sara Khan and illustrated by Alison Lodge

Inside this board book toddlers and young children will find out about the beautiful holy month of Ramadan, it’s meaning and purpose, as well as how and why it is celebrated.

Stunning illustrations, full of color, bring the pages to life and the carefully written text is simple, easy to understand, and suitable to be read aloud. It also features some facts about Ramadan and common questions children might ask.(Credit: Islamic Foundation)

Muslim Girls Rise: Inspirational Champions of Our Time by Saira Mir and illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel 

Discover the true stories of nineteen unstoppable Muslim women of the twenty-first century who have risen above challenges, doubts, and sometimes outright hostility to blaze trails in a wide range of fields. Whether it was the culinary arts, fashion, sports, government, science, entertainment, education, or activism, these women never took “no” for an answer or allowed themselves to be silenced. Instead, they worked to rise above and not only achieve their dreams, but become influential leaders.

Through short, information-rich biographies and vibrant illustrations, Muslim Girls Rise introduces young readers to the diverse and important contributions Muslim women have made, and role models they may never have heard of before, but whose stories they will never forget. (Credit: Salaam Reads / Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers)


Middle Grade and Teen Books

Once Upon an Eid : Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed and illustrated by Sara Alfageeh

Once Upon an Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid!

Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift-giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations. (Credit: Amulet Books)

Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam by Sumbul Ali-Karamali

Author Sumbul Ali-Karamali offers her personal account, discussing the many and varied questions she fielded from curious friends and schoolmates while growing up in Southern California—from diet, to dress, to prayer and holidays and everything in between. She also provides an academically reliable introduction to Islam, addressing its inception, development and current demographics.

Through this engaging work, readers will gain a better understanding of the everyday aspects of Muslim American life, to dispel many of the misconceptions that still remain and open a dialogue for tolerance and acceptance. (Credit: Delacorte Books for Young Readers)

The American Muslim Teenager’s Handbook by Dilara Hafiz, Imran Hafiz and Yasmine Hafiz

How do you reconcile being a teenager in America with being a Muslim? It’s not as difficult as you think! The American Muslim Teenager’s Handbook is a positive, fun, informative guide to being a Muslim teenager in America today. Covering everything from basic Islamic history and reading the Quran to drinking and dating, and filled with thoughts and opinions from Muslim teenagers across the country, this is an indispensable primer, for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to learning about and finding one’s place in American Islamic culture. (Credit: Atheneum Books for Young Readers)

I Am the Night Sky: & Other Reflections by Muslim American Youth edited by Hena Khan

During an era characterized by both hijabi fashion models and enduring post-9/11 stereotypes, ten Muslim American teenagers came together to explore what it means to be young and Muslim in America today. These teens represent the tremendous diversity within the American Muslim community, and their book, like them, contains multitudes. Bilal writes about being a Muslim musician. Imaan imagines a dystopian Underground. Samaa creates her own cartoon Kabob Squad. Ayah responds to online hate. Through poems, essays, artwork, and stories, these young people aim to show their true selves, to build connection, and to create more inclusive and welcoming communities for all. (Credit: Shout Mouse Press, Inc.)

Dine in My Halal Kitchen: Stews, Kebabs and Other Hearty Delights by Hayedeh Sedghi

An Iranian kitchen serves up wholesome food that nourishes the soul. Drawing from her cultural roots, culinary instructor Hayedeh Sedghi introduces readers to the delights of Iranian food, from creamy barley soup and fried aubergine stew to brightly coloured barberry rice and smoky yet tender spring chicken kebab. The recipes are organised into simple instructions and packed with plenty of tips and step-by-step photographs, making them accessible to home cooks of any level. With a few easily acquired techniques and readily available ingredients, preparing hearty, authentic Iranian dishes at home becomes effortless. (Credit: Marshall Cavendish International (Asia) Pte Ltd )

It’s Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race by Mariam Khan

Taking one of the most politicised and misused words associated with Muslim women and Islamophobia, It’s Not About the Burqa is poised to change all that. Here are voices you won’t see represented in the national news headlines: 18 Muslim women speaking frankly about the hijab and wavering faith, about love and divorce, about feminism, queer identity, sex and the twin threats of a disapproving community and a racist country. Funny, warm, sometimes sad and often angry, each of these essays is a passionate declaration, and each essay is calling time on the oppression, the lazy stereotyping, the misogyny and the Islamophobia. (Credit: Picador)

The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write by Sabrina Mahfouz

From established literary heavyweights to emerging spoken word artists, the writers in this ground-breaking collection blow away the narrow image of the ‘Muslim Woman’.

Hear from users of Islamic Tinder, a disenchanted Maulana working as a TV chat show host and a plastic surgeon blackmailed by MI6. Follow the career of an actress with Middle-Eastern heritage whose dreams of playing a ghostbuster spiral into repeat castings as a jihadi bride. Among stories of honour killings and ill-fated love in besieged locations, we also find heart-warming connections and powerful challenges to the status quo. (Credit: Saqi Books)


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