Today is the first day of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic lunar calendar. Ramadan always falls on the ninth month and because it is based on the moon, it varies from year to year. But the customs, observances and rituals that are such an important part of Ramadan are always the same. Here are a few books for young readers to become familiar with the traditions of this holiday.
My First Ramadan written and illustrated by Karen Katz
Henry Holt, 2007, 32 pages (age 2-5)
A young boy decides he is finally old enough to try to fast during the holy month of Ramadan. He clearly describes what he and his family do each day from before sunrise to sunset and how the end of Ramadan is celebrated. Simply words and text make this ideal for young readers.
Under the Ramadan Moon by Sylvia Whitman, illustrated by Sue Williams
Albert Whitman, 2011, 24 pages (age 3-8)
A young girl describes how she and her family observe the Ramadan holiday each day in this short poem that repeats the phrase "under the moon,/under the moon/under the Ramadan moon. It is a good book for young readers to learn the very basics of what Ramadan is and why it is observed.
Max Celebrates Ramadan by Adria F. Worsham, illustrated by Mernie Gallagher-Cole
Capstone, 2008, 24 pages (age 5-7)
In this leveled reader, Omar, who is Muslim, invites his friend Max to celebrate the end of Ramadan with his family. Max learns what this important holiday means to Islamic people, the purpose and importance of fasting. and the family oriented meal that celebrates the end of fasting, the Eid al-Fitr. A nice beginning reader.
The Jinni on the Roof, a Ramadan Story by Natasha Rafi, illustrated by Abdul Malik Channa
Pamir, 2013, 40 pages (age 4-8)
It's the end of Ramadan, and Raza's family, including many of his aunts, uncles and cousins, are about to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr in Lahore. Early that morning, while everyone is still sleeping, Raza wakes up and hears Amina, the family cook, making parathas in the kitchen. Realizing he is very hungry, Raza quietly climbs up to the roof, goes over to the kitchen chimney and in a deep voice, tells Amina to make some parathas for him. Thinking voice belongs to a jinni, a scary being, Amina gets Raza's grandmother. The two women fix some parathas according to the "jinni's" instructions, but has Raza really fooled anyone? This is a fun story that also introduces young readers about Ramadan in Pakistan. A glossary is included, as well as an Author's Note that explains more about the tradition of Ramadan.
Lailah's Lunchbox, a Ramadan Story by Reem Farqui, illustrated by Lea Lyon
Tilbury House, 2015, 32 pages (age 6-8)
Lailah is finally old enough to fast, but when she shows up at her new school without her lunchbox, she doesn't give the teacher the note her mother sent explaining that it is Ramadan. Later, in the cafeteria, she thinks about the friends she left behind when her family moved from Abu Dhabi, who were also Muslim. Lailah is also afraid her new friends won't understand why she won't be eating lunch for a month. An understanding librarian helps Lailah sort it all out. A very nice picture book for older readers based on the author's real experience of moving to this country from the Middle East as a girl.
A Party in Ramadan by Asthma Mobin-Uddin, MD, illustrated by Laura Jacobsen
Highlights Press, 2009, 32 pages (age 7-9)
Leena is finally old enough to begin fasting for Ramadan, if only for one day a week. She decides to fast on Fridays, so she can have Iftar with her Auntie Sana. When Leena is invited to her friend Julia's birthday party where there will be a pony, her mother reminds her it's the first Friday in Ramadan. Leena decides to go to the party, and just not each any of the food there, but discovers that's easier said than done. Back at home, Leena helps prepare for Iftar, and later has a wonderful surprise thanks to her friend Julia. There is lots to learn about Ramadan, respect and friendship in this story.
Ramadan by Suhaib Hamid Ghazi, illustrated by Omar Rauuan
Holiday House, 1996, 26 pages (age 7-9)
As young Hakeem celebrates Ramadan with his family, the meaning, history and cultural rituals for observing Ramadan are incorporated into the story in this picture book for older readers. Though not really a narrative, it is an interesting introduction to this holy month for both young Muslims and non-Muslims and includes more information, including a glossary, than most Ramadan stories.