Monday, March 12, 2012

Book Sharing Monday: My First Ramadan and Night of the Mooon

While I have done book reviews in the past and will continue to do so, I am excited that a group of attachment parents are all doing the same thing, on Mondays. This new blog carnival, Book Sharing Mondays, is something I look forward to participating in every so often! While I will keep the same format as my previous book reviews, I hope that my reviews will gain a wider audience by participating.

This time, I have two books on the same subject to review: Night of the Moon (by Hena Khan and Julie Paschkis) and My First Ramadan (by Karen Katz).

My First Ramadan
I was delighted to find these two books at my local Columbus Library, in both the kids section AND the parenting section. As a parent who is raising my son in a specific (minority) religion, I still think it is important for him to learn about all the peoples of the world and what they believe as well. This, I believe, will help him become a decent world citizen. So these books I believe are important for all children.

I am ashamed to admit that I knew precious little about Islam and the holy month of Ramadan (much less Eid al-Fitr) when I read these picture books, aimed at children. I knew that daytime fasting took place for a whole month, and that was about it. These books taught me a whole lot and I would heartily recommend them to both Muslim parents hoping to find picture books that illustrate their culture as well and non-Muslim parents like me, who want their children well-versed on the peoples of the world.

In Night of the Moon, the main character, Yasmeen, tells her story of following the moon's first crescent in the month of Ramadan, and how her family and community celebrate it. She talks about the parties, feasts, and celebrations that happen with friends and family, at the mosque, and her community center.

She learns from her parents and grandparents the meaning of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr (which is the holiday immediately following Ramadan). This book is gorgeously illustrated and comes with a small summary of the holidays and a glossary of terms for those first encountering Ramadan and its meanings (like me!).

The book portrays all kinds of Muslims all over the world- different nationalities and ethnicities and people practicing different cultural expressions of Islam- for example, some women wear headscarves in their everyday lives while others do not.

In My First Ramadan, the target audience is more narrow- I think the book works best for ages 2-7, whereas the previous book would work for a broader age group. In My First Ramadan, I also learned several new things about Islam and Ramadan and the pronunciations are in the book for the unfamiliar words- so helpful!

The family in My First Ramadan is a bit more Orthodox than in the first book. The women wear headscarves and worship at the mosque in separate rooms. The family is pretty heteronormative in the gender roles- mother always cooks, father always leads the prayers. I bring this up because it was not gendered like this in the first book, and the culture kind of squicked me, personally. I still think the book is a good resource, and if I continue to use it, I would point these things out to my son and ask open-ended questions about them, rather than letting the gendered assumptions sit there without comment.

Formal Ratings:

Title: Night of the Moon
Author: Hena Khan and Julie Paschkis
Publisher: Chronicle Kids
Price: $16.99 USD
ISBN: 978-0-8118-6062-8

Topics Covered: Islam, Muslims, Ramadan, Eid-al-Fitr

Target Audience: children ages 2-10

Witch Mom Rating: Three Hats

This book is an amazing resource for all kids, regardless of religion. I learned a whole heck of a lot from reading it, and it will do a great job of teaching your kids about Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, as well as Islam in general.

Title: My First Ramadan
Author: Karen Katz
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Price: $14.95 USD
ISBN: 978-0-8050-7894-7

Topics Covered: Islam, Muslims, Ramadan, Eid-al-Fitr

Target Audience: children ages 2-7

Witch Mom Rating: Two and a Half Hats

This book is also a great book on these two major Muslim holy days and would serve children well, regardless of religion. I learned a few more items by reading this book after the first one (above), but feel that it is less informative after reading Night of the Moon. This book also contains more heteronormative gender roles than the first book, as I explained above.


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