'Heroes of their own stories': The best children's books to gift for Eid this year
Not so long ago, finding books centring Muslim children was a difficult task, but no longer. From heart-warming stories to funny adventures, and everything in between, there’s now a plethora of exciting books by Muslim creators featuring Muslim children.
If you’re looking to buy books for toddlers or younger children in your life, the following are all celebratory, nuanced books about self-belief, love, kindness and more, and show that Muslim children can be the heroes of their own stories.
Not Now, Noor! by Farhana Islam and Nabila Adani (illustrator)
This tale about young Noor trying to discover why the women in her family wear hijabs is a funny and sweet story about childhood curiosity and imagination. Noor knows that her XX isn’t really a super spy and that the hijab isn’t a hiding place for snacks, but everyone is too busy to answer her questions. Until that is, her mum arrives home. Adani’s bright colour palette and Islam’s witty text make this an entertaining story, and one that is a celebration of Muslim women.
In My Mosque by M. O. Yuksel and Hatem Aly (illustrator)
Ever wondered what happens in a mosque? This sumptuous and inclusive book opens the doors and invites everyone inside to meet the warm, welcoming communities of the mosque. From covering religious aspects to showing how the mosque is a space for community, In My Mosque explores a range of experiences young children will have in a mosque, and is a simple and warm introduction to the space, illustrated beautifully by Aly.
The Most Exciting Eid by Zeba Talkhani and Abeeha Tariq (Scholastic)
Safa wakes up on Eid-al-Fitr excited for a day of celebrating with delicious food and fun activities and, best of all, a present of a shiny pink bicycle. The only problem is her cousin Alissa, who Safa really doesn’t want to share her bicycle with until Safa’s mum takes her on an adventure to gift delicious Eid treats to all their neighbours and she learns what the occasion is truly about. The Most Exciting Eid is a beautiful and joyous celebration of the true meaning of Eid.
Moon’s Ramadan by Natasha Khan Kazi (Farshore)
Moon’s Ramadan is a look at Eid around the world, through the character of the Moon as it traverses the earth and grows bigger over the course of the month of Ramadan. Looking at cultural differences across different communities when it comes to prayer, food and more, it has lyrical prose and beautiful illustrations and is a gentle introduction to how Ramadan works, as well as an acknowledgement that everyone marks the month slightly differently.
Allah Knows All About Me (Learning Roots)
This board book introduces young children to Allah and the concepts of faith through verses and bright illustrations. Using relatable everyday scenes and emotions, from messy rooms to crying over broken toys, the book’s rhymes and simple language are easily accessible for youngsters. Its fun illustrations will also have children taking part in the actions of the book, from wiggling their fingers and toes to spinning round and round.
The Kindest Red by Ibtihaj Muhammad, S. K. Ali and Hatem Aly (illustrator)
A sequel to Olympic medal-winning fencer Muhammad’s The Proudest Blue – in which Faizah watches as her older sister Asiya dons hijab and finds strength in the face of hurtful words – The Kindest Red asks Faizah and readers to imagine what kind of world they want to live in. Faizah dreams of a world where everyone is kind to each other, and tries to recreate that in the school playground. But will her classmates repay her kindness and find a way for her to match Asiya in time for school photo day? The Kindest Red carries an important message about celebrating each other’s differences and similarities.
Rumaysa: A Fairytale and Rumaysa: Ever After by Radiya Hafiza and Rhaida El Touny (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Forget Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, and introduce children to the world of Rumaysa, a hijab-wearing fairytale princess who’s independent and ready for adventure. Hafiza’s story takes inspiration from well-known Western fairy tales and spins them to give a fresh take on the genre that allows brown girls, and specifically Muslim girls, to see themselves as the hero. Funny and moving, Rumaysa and its sequel Rumaysa Ever After are enchanting and empowering.
BeYOUtiful by Shelina Janmohamed and Chanté Timothy (illustrator)
What does beauty mean? The answer can often be confusing, and make many people – especially children – feel bad about themselves. Janmohamed’s book is a look at what it means to feel positive about the way you look, breaking down why images presented of beautiful people aren’t always what they seem, and taking a look at how ideas of beauty vary around the world and have done so throughout history.
Funny, inspirational and from the heart, it showcases a huge diversity of women and girls, talking about their own experiences. It message that everyone is beautiful is a crucial one for young people to learn at a young age.
Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties by Humza Arshad, Hnery White and XX (illustrator)
If you’re after funny books but don’t want to turn to the usual, sometimes problematic subjects, then Arshad’s Little Badman and the Invasion of the Killer Aunties – and its sequels – are a great alternative. The books follow Humza Khan, the greatest eleven-year-old rapper Eggington has ever known, who in the first book realises the teachers in his school are disappearing and being replaced by aunties. Laugh-out-loud funny, Arshad’s books will appeal to children who love bonkers, over-the-top stories full of comic capers.
Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian and Nasaya Mafaridik (illustrator)
Another addition to the funny books genre, Mian’s book follows Omar, who moves to a new house and a new school at the same time. Hilarious text and cartoon-style illustrations tell the story of how Omar attempts to fit in and make friends, stay in his parents’ good books and prepare for Eid. The series is perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
City of Stolen Magic by Nazneed Ahmed Pathak (Puffin)
This debut novel, out on June 8, is set in an alternative India in 1855 where magic exists. People born with magic are being snatched from their homes and rumour says they’re being taken to England. Following Chompa, who is born with powerful and dangerous magic and whose mother is kidnapped, this book is an entertaining adventure, and an introduction to colonialism and its effects and legacy.
Sarah Shaffi is a freelance literary journalist and editor. She writes about books for Stylist Magazine online and is the books editor at Phoenix Magazine.
Follow her here: @sarahshaffi