In this guest post, former intern Mitul Daiyan shares her favorite Ramadan reads.
Today marks the first full day of Ramadan. Growing up, we had an array of traditions that marked the arrival of Ramadan. Ramadan officially begins the evening before the first day of fasting. Marked by the sighting of the moon, we would go to the mosque in anticipation of news from the imam. Cheers would resound across the mosque once the official announcement was made and we’d pray the first of thirty Tarawih prayers of the month. Lining the floors feet to feet, shoulder to shoulder in the direction of Mecca, the imam started with the first chapter of the Quran. Thus begins Ramadan.
At home, Dawud Wharnsby Ali’s song “We’ve Scanned the Sky” played in the background as my family bustled around the kitchen in preparation for Suhoor, the early dawn meal before starting our day-long fast. As the day progresses and hunger strikes a cord in our bellies, we come together in the evening where we prepare an elaborate fast with delicious dates, pakoras, and lentil stew.
These traditions are not lost on me and continue to flourish in my home. However, along with the food and music of Ramadan, I’ve added a literary twist to my celebrations. Nothing drives home nostalgia more for me than books. The following reads are just a few of the Ramadan related books that I pull out of my shelf. I hope that you’ll carve out your own traditions and give these books a read to welcome the month of Ramadan.
Under the Ramadan Moon
written by Sylvia Whitman, illustrated by Sue Williams
This lyrical book beautifully illustrates the highlights of Ramadan. It’s a sweet tale that follows a family as they come together to celebrate with each other, their friends, and their neighbors. The entire book evokes all the lovely, cozy feelings of my favorite holiday season.
My First Ramadan
written and illustrated by Karen Katz
Told from the perspective of a little boy on a journey to learn the meaning of Ramadan, this charming book walks readers through the intricacies of this religious month, demystifying Muslim customs, prayers, and practices.
Nabeels New Pants: An Eid Tale
retold by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, illustrated by Prioti Roi
With the end of Ramadan, hilarity ensues when Nabeel the shoemaker tries to hem his new pants in time for Eid . This endearing story is sure to give you a belly full of laughs as his well-meaning family comes together to show their love for Nabeel, causing a mistaken case of missing pants.
written by Reem Faruqi, illustrated by Lea Lyon
Lailah is the new kid at school in Peachtree, Georgia. With Ramadan’s arrival comes anxiety about being perceived as different as Lailah takes part in fasting. Finding solace in the library during lunch, Lailah is encouraged to write about her journey. This brave and beautiful story captures the courage it takes to share an important and not always understood part of who you are.
It’s Ramadan, Curious George
written by Hena Khan, illustrated by Mary O’Keefe
I was thrilled to find that my favorite mischievous monkey was taking on Ramadan in this wonderful new book. Follow George as he joins his friend Kareem in a festive journey from Ramadan to Eid. A great representation of Islam in a children’s literature classic!
Mitul Daiyan is a former intern at Lee & Low Books. She holds a masters degree from Harvard Divinity School and is currently a member of the marketing team at FableVision Studios, a Boston-based educational media studio.