Islamic culture is central to the lives of many people in our community. Luckily, there are books that assist non-Muslims in understanding. They also remind Muslim children that they belong.
With rhyming text, Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors by Hena Khan with illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini gently introduces readers both to colors and to Islam. It is simple and informative without feeling stilted or preachy. Preschool and early elementary kids will really like it. In addition to definitions in context, parts of the main girl's religion and culture are explained clearly in an index at the back of the book.
Standing up for your beliefs and identity can be scary, especially when there are bullies. So, what will be the main character's response when he experiences that situation in My Name is Bilal by Asma Monin-Uddin and illustrated by Barbara Kiwak? It takes courage for Bilal, a Muslim-American boy, to affirm his identity. However, he comes to support his sister who is being teased because of her head-scarf. His teacher is also Muslim and guides Bilal to appreciate his heritage. For older elementary students who will benefit from seeing a role-model cope with what they face, this is a great book.
Another book for kids in older elementary grades is One Green Apple by Eve Bunting with pictures by Ted Lewin. It speaks to people who are new to the United States and may be closer than the other books in terms of the challenges that resettled refugees face. The main character, Farah, does not know English and, like all of the females in her previous home. wears a head scarf. Her classmates are kind and helpful. This story, told through her eyes, depicts a class trip to an apple orchard.
The title of this blog is the typical Muslim greeting that means Peace be upon you. I learned this from reading the extra material in the back of My Name is Bilial. Therefore, I will end this blog with something else I learned there. Wa alaykum as-salaam, the reply, And peace be upon you.
About the Author
Anna Francesca Garcia earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences Degree from the University of North Texas. She has worked in public libraries in Nevada and Missouri for eleven years. Currently, Anna Francesca is Kansas City Public Library’s Education Librarian.