We are celebrating Ramadan over at Multicultural Children’s Book Day for the month of June. This is my contribution. Join us at our blog with guest posts from authors on how they are celebrating Ramadan, and book giveaways.
I wanted to make a list of Ramadan books to learn more about this holiday. Here’s what I learned after reading a dozen books:
- Ramandan is the ninth month in the calendar used for Muslim holidays. When it is near, they watch for a new crescent moon. (Now I understand why many Ramadan books reference the moon in the title!)
- The calendar for Muslim holidays follows the moon which means Ramadan starts on a different day every year, and can happen in any season. This year Ramadan falls during summer which is the most challenging season to fast during. The days are very long and hot.
- Caring for the poor is important to Muslims which is one reason why they fast. Fasting helps them understand how people feel when they go hungry.
- The festival of Girgian which comes in the middle of Ramadan reminds me of Halloween. Kids get dressed in traditional costumes and collect treats from their neighbors.
- The new crescent moon marks the end of Ramadan and that day is called Eid al-Fitr. Muslims clean and decorate their homes and they have a big feast.
Ramadan has some similarities to Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement for Jewish people. Both holidays involve fasting, forgiveness, multiple prayer times, and is based on a lunar calendar.
16 Wonderful Ramadan Books for Kids of All Ages
I’ve organized these wonderful Ramadan books by:
- Ramadan Picture Books Set in Present Day United States
- Ramadan Picture Books Set in Present Day Middle East
- Books to Introduce Ramadan to Very Young Readers
- An Eid Folktale
- Two Lovely Picture Books About the Muslim Faith
If you need Ramadan books by genre, this collection has picture books, advanced picture books, easy reader, board book, and early chapter book. I hope you find what you need to learn about Ramadan.
Ramadan Picture Books Set in Present Day United States
A Party in Ramadan by Asma Mobin-Uddin, illustrated by Laura Jacobson
I really loved this picture book that shows a typical conflict between someone living within two cultures. This would be a good picture book for anyone learning about Ramadan as well as celebrating it.
Leena’s friend Julia is having a birthday party with pony rides but it falls on the first Friday of Ramadan. She can squeeze it in before their Ramadan iftar dinner but it’s her first year of fasting. It’s hard to fast when all the other kids are having cake and lemonade. Leena enjoys her iftar dinner with her relatives and has an unexpected guest. Julia and her family bring by some of Julia’s cake that they saved for her. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story of Reem Faruqi, illustrated by Lea Lyon
Lailah is celebrating her first Ramadan doing the month-long fast but she misses her friends in Abu Dubai. Living is Georgia means that no one in her class is fasting. Will they understand if she has trouble explaining to them? The cafeteria is hard for her to stay in with all the smells of food. Lailah’s refuge is the library, and the kind librarian who lends an ear and has suggestions to help her. This is a great picture book to read at school, especially if any students are fasting. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
The Best Eid Ever by Asma Mobin-Uddin, illustrated by Laura Jacobsen
Aneesa is a little down in the dumps because her parents are away in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage. She’s celebrating Ramadan with her grandmother, who works hard to make it special for her. She has a basket of gifts for Aneesa — three beautiful outfits for each of the three days of Eid. She’s also making a lamb korma. At the prayer hall, Aneesa notices two girls on the outskirts with shabby hajibs. She learns that they were forced to leave their home in another country because of war or another bad problem and lost everything they had. Aneesa decides to leave them a surprise for Eid. On this Eid, she and her grandmother will eat vegetarian takeout and she will wear her one beautiful outfit three times.
This is a wonderful picture book that captures the importance of charity and helping others less fortunate during Ramadan. It’s actually a pillar of the Muslim faith. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Ramadan Books Set in Present Day Middle East
The White Nights of Ramadan by Maha Addasi, illustrated by Ned Gannon
Noor celebrates Girgian, a festival during the middle of Ramadan with her family. This is celebration where children dress up in traditional clothes and go house to house collecting candy from their neighbors. This holiday begins on the full moon rising. Her family makes the candy they give out; it’s a nut brittle with pistachios that they wrap in cellophane and tie with ribbons. Noor and her brothers decorate their bags they use for collecting their treats. After the kids return with their bags stuffed full of candy, they help deliver baskets of food for the poor. Helping others is also an important part of Ramadan. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Time to Pray by Maha Addasi, translated by Nuha Albitar, illustrated by Ned Gannon
Yasmin is visiting her grandmother (Teta) in the Middle East who teaches her about Ramadan. They pick out fabric for special prayer clothes and a small rug as well. Teta, her grandmother, sews her the clothes, practices the prayers with her and takes her to the mosque. Yasmin is worried that she doesn’t have a mosque near her home in the United States, so she won’t know when it’s time to pray. Her grandmother has a solution that she sends home with Yasmin in her suitcase. This is a great bilingual Arabic picture book! It’s especially suited for grandmothers to read to granddaughters. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Ramadan by Suhaib Hamid Ghazi, illustrated by Omar Rayyan
For kids who want a more in depth look into Islam and Ramadan, this advanced picture book tells the story of Hakeem and his family as they celebrate. For example, while most books on Ramadan talk about fasting for the holy month, this book also explains that those observing Ramadan are not allowed to put anything into their mouths during the fast period including chewing gum or cigarettes.
I also like how this book shows the Muslims from all over the word in Hakeem’s community who come from Pakistan, Palestine, Spain, Somalia, Australia, Algeria, Norway, Nigeria and beyond. And, as one large group, they celebrate Eid together. [advanced picture book, ages 8 and up]
Magrid Fasts for Ramadan by Mary Matthews, illustrated by E. B. Lewis
I’ve included this book because it’s the only Early Chapter Book that I found on Ramadan and it also shows the difficult rule of Ramadan that siblings must get along! Set in present day Egypt, Magrid is too young to fast all day like his sister, but he wants to do it anyway. He figures out how to skip meals without getting noticed, but his sister notices and tells on him. Being honest is a tenant of being a good Muslim and his parents guide him on what is truly important during Ramadan. [early chapter book, ages 6 and up]
Zachariah’s Perfect Day by Farrah Qazi, illustrated by Durre Waseem
This picture book brings many elements of Ramadan together. It shows passages related to Ramadan from the Quran in Arabic and with an English translation. Zachariah introduces popular food cooked for Ramadan and the author provides a recipe for Parathas in the back of the book. [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Books to Introduce Ramadan to Very Young Readers
Ramadan Moon by Na’ima B. Robert and Shirin Adl
Need a beautifully illustrated free verse picture book to introduce kids to Ramadan? This is my pick! Follow the cycle of the moon as it marks the month-long celebration of Ramadan. With simple but beautiful free verse, the Month of Mercy is explained and celebrated. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
My First Ramadan by Karen Katz
I’d use this simple book with appealing illustrations to teach preschoolers about Ramadan. It shows how a young boy celebrates his first Ramadan with his family. [picture book, ages 2 and up]
It’s Ramadan, Curious George! by H. A. Rey
This board book with tabs teaches kids, and Curious George, about Ramadan. He helps his friend Kareem and his family celebrate Ramadan from eating the special foods, making gift baskets for the needy, and watching for the full moon to celebrate Eid. [board book, ages 2 and up]
Max Celebrates Ramadan by Adria F. Worsham, illustrated by Mernie Gallagher-Cole
Max and Omar are good friends. Max gets invited to Omar’s house for a big feast to celebrate the end of Ramadan called Eid-al-Fitr. This simple story covers the Islam religion in a way that a young child can understand. [easy reader, ages 6 and up]
Rashad’s Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr by Lisa Bullard, illustrated by Holli Conger
This picture book chapter book reads like a story but also has sidebars on each page with additional information about Ramadan. You can read it on both levels depending on your child’s interest and age level. It’s book that can grow with a child as well. The colorful illustrations are appealing, especially the depictions of people. [picture book with chapters, ages 4 and up]
Amal’s Ramadan by Amy Maranville, illustrated by Josh Stevens
It’s Amal’s first Ramadan to participate in the fast, and he’s excited. He goes to a secular summer camp where no one else is fasting so he does the usual activities including the running games. All of a sudden, he feels sick and dizzy. His counselor gives him a small glass of cranberry juice which makes him feel better, but he’s also upset that he broke fast. That night, his grandmother comforts him. She broke her first fast too. Tomorrow, he gets to try again.
Children don’t fast for Ramadan until they are twelve years old and it’s extra hard if they are around others who are not fasting. I’d use this picture book to teach kids about world religions, especially if they have a friend or classmate who is Muslim. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
An Eid Folktale
Nabeel’s New Pants: An Eid Tale retold by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, illustrated by Proiti Roy
The celebration of Eid is tomorrow and Nabeel decides to buy presents for his family. He buys his wife a burka, a dupatta for his mother, and bangles for his daughter. He also buys new pants for himself but they are little too long. He gives the gifts to his family and asks each of them to shorten his pants but they are too busy getting ready for Eid. In a comedy of caring and miscommunication, Nabeel’s pants get shortened, to hilarious results. This is an Eid tale to read after the feast is over and everyone is ready to laugh! [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Amal’s Eid by Amy Maranville, illustrated by Joshua Stevens
Amal’s favorite holiday is Eid, which is at the end of the month of Ramadan. Eid is a celebration, marked by new clothes, stories, gifts, music, resolutions, and a big feast. This is a simple story to describe how a family celebrates Eid in modern times. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Two Lovely Picture Books About the Muslim Faith
Going to Mecca by Na’ima B. Robert, illustrated by Valentina Cavallini
Pair this book with The Best Eid Ever which references the Hajj pilgrimage. Told in free verse, this is a charming picture book about “the journey of a lifetime” and the different milestones that the pilgrims experience including the Black Stone, praying on Mount Arafat, and following the path of the prophets Abraham and Ishmael. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
The Camel in the Sun by Griffin Ondaatje, illustrated by Linda Wolfsgruber
A hardhearted merchant overworks his camel who carries his spices, dates and goods across the steep dunes of the desert. While the merchant rests in the shade, the camel is tied to a tree in the harsh sun where it has to wait for hours. After many, many years of this hard life, the camel is sad. One day, a propht notices the camel and treats it with compassion. The prophet is able to transfer the camel’s feelings to the owner while he sleeps. This experience of understanding the camel’s feelings changes the merchant forever. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Join us for 30 Days of Ramadan: Understanding Our Muslim Friends linky. We are giving away books at Multicultural Children’s Book Day! Please link up your posts on Ramadan!
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p.s. Arab American Book Lists for Kids
This is my collection of the best picture books I’ve read so far about the Arab world.
In the wake of the conflicts in the Middle East, I thought it especially important for kids to learn about Islam and the people of the Middle East which might also teach them tolerance in the process. There is so much negative stereotyping during a war that can color a child’s perspective.
Deborah Ellis’s Parvana series shows a realistic view of what life is like in Afghanistan for girls today. It’s heartbreaking but also so important.
Chapter book The Pharoah’s Secret by Marissa Moss discovered in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Did I find Senenmut, Hatshepsut’s love there?!