5 Books That Celebrate and Teach About Ramadan and Eid

It can be a challenge to find books that feature a holy time that is observed by a human character. It's easy to read about a moose searching for a matzoh ball, a llama finding eggs in the spring, or a monkey fasting during Ramadan. It's easy to find non-fiction books explaining practices in different religions. It can be a bit harder to find storybooks in which humans practice their religion. This is the first post in a series that will run through 2020, in which I share with you a handful of books that do depict the religious observances of human characters.

Ramadan
and
Eid

Ramadan is one of the most holy times during the Islamic year. If your family is Muslim, sharing seasonal books can enhance your child(ren)'s enjoyment of the celebrations. If you are non-Muslim like us, these books can help you better understand the holy month. (Books have really helped T learn about different religions. At one point when he was 3, T had a better understanding of Passover than Easter. Once we read and talked more about Easter, though, he understood our holy days too.)

Here are five books about Ramadan and Eid that I recommend for young readers from preschool on up through middle school. Whether you want to celebrate with a book, prepare to be an iftar guest, or learn about the holy month of the world’s second most-practiced religion, these publications can meet those needs.

Under the Ramadan Moon

By Sylvia Whitman and Sue Williams
Published by Albert Whitman and Company, 2008

Under the Ramadan Moon is an excellent introduction to Ramadan for young readers because it explains how the holy month is observed in very simple terms (“We give to the poor…We bake sweet treats…We visit friends.”). The refrain “under the moon” will appeal to young listeners who love repetition; this repetition also emphasizes that celebration takes place after sunset. Back matter provides a more through explanation.

Night of the Moon


By Hena Khan and Julie Pashkis
Published by Chronicle Books, 2008

Yasmeen celebrates Ramadan with her family. She is proud when her class learns about Ramadan at school, she is joyful during the various nighttime parties, she is watchful of the moon’s phases, and she is excited about the Eid presents. Although she and her younger brother do not fast, she talks with her parents about their fasting. Back matter includes a glossary of terms and an author’s note about the significance of Ramadan and Eid. Muslim readers will likely identify with Yasmeen, and non-Muslim readers will learn about the observance and celebration of Ramadan and Eid. Yasmeen’s feelings will resonate with readers of any (or no) religion.

The Gift of Ramadan

By Rabiah York Lumbard and Laura K. Horton
Published by Albert Whitman and Company, 2019

The Gift of Ramadan focuses on young Sophia who wants to participate in the daily fasting with her family after her grandmother explains its purpose. We see the first day of Ramadan through Sophia’s eyes: the struggle to stay awake during predawn breakfast and prayers, the temptation of cookies, the sadness when her hunger overcomes her and she eats, the reassurance from her grandmother that she is not a failure, and the joy she discovers in preparing iftar for her family. Sophia also reflects on how her mother reads the Quran and her father gives to charity during the holy month. The Gift of Ramadan is a story about a little girl’s perseverance to participate in something very special with her family – it is a story any reader could identify with.

Ramadan

By Suhaib Hamid Ghazi and Omar Rayyan
Published by Holiday House, 1996

Ideal for non-Muslim readers, Ramadan is introduced through detailed explanations and beautiful illustrations (just look at that cover!). Ramadan is a frame narrative, with Hakeem celebrating and readers receiving detailed explanations of what he is doing and why. This is information about a religion in the form of a story; it is an enjoyable read. Excellent for older elementary schoolers looking to better understand the holy month. Back matter provides a glossary of terms.

Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices

Edited by S. K. Ali and Aisha Saeed
Expected publication: May 2020 from Amulet Books (an imprint of Abrams)

Once Upon an Eid is one book that can span middle grades and middle school because of its variety. Each of the 15 writers shares a different story of Eid, ranging from the perspectives of the cousins whose cake fight ends in laughter to newly converted Makayla to the refugee Baseem ensuring the kids in his community have a fun-filled holiday. Each tale is unique and individually compelling, but all are unified in the love and joy shared with friends and family on Eid. These 15 stories share universal preadolescent and adolescent experiences of insecurity, friendship, celebrations, and perseverance. Muslim or not, readers can see themselves in the characters between the covers.

An Editors’ Introduction says it all: “We hope the joy will resonate with all kids – Muslims or not–and unite us all in celebration!” And I see no reason why it won’t. Keep your eyes out for this in May!

Son’s Highlights

(Age:4)

Under the Ramadan Moon
I like the rhyming.

Night of the Moon
T really seemed to identify with Yasmeen and the things she enjoyed:
You know what I like more than toys? Presents. That looks good – all the desserts! I'm thinking about my birthday; I'm going to have balloons.

The Gift of Ramadan
Favorite part: When she solves the problem.

Ramadan
You should read this one, Mom. You'll like it. The pictures are pretty.
_______________________________________________
For no
n-Muslims:
Ramadan is the ninth and holy month in the Islamic lunar calendar; it marks the beginning of God's revelation of the Quran to Muhammed through the angel Gabriel. Muslims observe Ramadan through prayer, fasting, charity, and reading the Quran. Before sunrise (when fasting begins), a special breakfast is shared; after sunset (the end of the daily fast), Muslims celebrate with another special meal called iftar. Eid is the three-day long celebration at the end of Ramadan.*

*Sources: Back matter from the books above.

Note: 
Review copies were provided by Albert Whitman and Company and Abrams Kids in exchange for honest review.

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