A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. What if we told you that Valentine’s Day is also International Book Giving Day? The perfect excuse - if you needed one - to buy and share a love of books!
In honor of International Book Giving Day, we at KitaabWorld are sharing our final booklist of “45+ Books to Counter Islamophobia Through Stories”. Over the last few weeks, the Republican government unleashed a xenophobic ban to bar Muslims from seven countries as well as refugees from entering the US.
As fear and misinformation escalated, ordinary people from all walks of life banded together to show solidarity and humanity to those affected. Now more than ever, we need to come together and change the stories of how we see Muslims.
This list is a conclusion of our month-long campaign, which we launched on January 16, 2017 (Martin Luther King Day). Using a framework of curated book lists, on four different themes: Muslim Kids as Heroes, Inspiring Muslim Leaders, Celebrating Islam and Folktales from Islamic Traditions, we provide multiple opportunities to engage with stories that reflect the diversity of the Muslim experience.
Along with these curated book lists,we interviewed many leading children’s book authors and publishers: Rukhsana Khan, Naheed Senzai, Jeanette Winter, Hena Khan, Reem Faruqi, Emma Apple, Shahrukh Hussain and Sally Malam. We also shared personal stories of what it means to be a Muslim by Diba Ataie, members of Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA), Olinda Hassan and Khadija Ejaz.
Now, we invite you to fight fear with knowledge. In the same spirit of solidarity, we ask - can you help us take these books to as many children as possible in homes, schools, libraries and communities? We are a small team but with these resources, we are offering you a way to have conversations about diversity, address fears, and create a sense of belonging and respect as we all raise the next generation of leaders.
See entire Counter Islamophobia through Stories collection here.
45+ Books to Counter Islamophobia Through Stories
BOARD BOOKS (3+)
It’s Ramadan, Curious George: There is little doubt that Curious George is a household favorite for most kids! Here, he celebrates Ramadan and Eid with his friend, Kareem explaining key concepts around Ramadan along the way.
EARLY PICTURE BOOKS (5+)
Owl & Cat: Islam Is: With its lovely yet minimalistic illustrations and text, this picture book showcases the concepts of Islam in a simple age-appropriate manner.
The Little Girl Says Alhamdulilah: A whimsical book that looks at the many ways to thank God (Alhamdulilah in Arabic) for bright blue skies, pouring rain and a furry friend to share it all with.
Golden Domes, Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of colors: This beautiful and creative picture book has luminous illustrations and lyrical verse that celebrate the beauty of Islamic traditions.
Lailah’s Lunchbox: Lailah's hesitation about her faith and Ramadan traditions are gently explained from a child’s point of view.
King for a Day: The story celebrating the spring festival of Basant focusses on a thoughtful boy who stands up to the bully, works together with his siblings, and shows kindness to a young girl.
Big Red Lollipop: Things unfurl quickly when an older sister reluctantly takes her bratty younger sister to a birthday party. A deep and well observed tale about immigrants, assimilation and identity.
Deep in the Sahara: This coming of age story shows young Laila interacting with many woman who guide her to make her own choice. A warm and positive story about Islam and personal choice.
The Perfect Gift: Inspired by nature’s beauty Sarah creates a special gift that her whole family can partake in.
Muhammad Ali: A Champion is Born: A childhood tale about the Greatest boxing legend of our time, recounts the incident that led Ali to boxing as a way of life.
The Boy Without a Name: An enchanting Sufi tale about a young boy who yearns for a name and is willing to trade his dream for a name.
The Clever Boy and the Terrible, Dangerous Animal: A lighthearted tale about fearing that (and those) which we do not know.
Fatima, the Spinner and the Tent: This story travels across oceans from Morocco, to Egypt, Turkey and finally to China where Fatima realizes the meaning of all the misfortune in her life.
RELATED: See Muslim Kids as Heroes book list
ADVANCED PICTURE BOOKS (7+)
Four Feet, Two Sandals: A sensitive introduction to the refugee crisis around the world, and honors the lives, struggles and humanity of refugees despite their desperate situation.
Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education: An inspiring story drawn from a real life hero who runs a girls' school in Afghanistan.
Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan: This book deeply affirms the life-changing power of education and the healing power of love.
Whale of a Wish: A retelling of Prophet Yunus's story (Jonah in Jewish and Christian traditions) from the perspective of the whale that swallows him.
Muhammad: This exquisitely illustrated, well-written and researched book makes it a perfect introduction on the origins of Islam.
1001 Inventions and facts from Muslim civilization: An informative and visually delightful book that traces the contributions of Muslim scholars, philosophers, artists, scientists and more.
The Amazing Travels of Ibn Battuta: Ibn Battuta, a great traveler from the 14th century paved the way for modern age of discovery.
Taj Mahal: A Story of Love and Empire: The Taj Mahal, a harmonious integration of Indian, Persian and Islamic influences is a considered ‘the jewel of Muslim art in India’.
Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X: Written by his daughter, this inspiring book celebrates a vision of freedom and justice, and shows the childhood story of Malcolm X, one of America’s most influential figures.
Malala a Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of Bravery: Two real life heroes - Iqbal Masih and Malala Yousufzai meet on the pages of this two-in-one picture book by renowned author-illustrator Jeanette Winter.
Twenty Two Cents: Mohammed Yunus and the Village Bank: This picture book biography of Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the micro-credit lending Grameen Bank is an inspiring tale of empowerment.
Alia’s Mission: Saving the book of Iraq: The heroic efforts of Alia Muhammad Baker to save over 30,000 titles from the Library of Basra is multi-faceted tale about the human cost of war.
The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued the Jews during the Holocaust: This little-known piece of history recounts how the Muslims of Grand Mosque of Paris saved the lives of many Jews in Nazi occupied France.
RELATED: See Inspiring Muslim Leaders book list
CHAPTER BOOKS (8+)
The Hijab Boutique: Learning about her mother helps Farah discover her own cultural and religious identity.
Razia and the Pesky Presents: A fun historical twist on Razia Sultan - the only female ruler of the Delhi Sultanate.
My Friend is Muslim: Layla is preparing a class presentation on Islam with the help of her friend Nancy and this frames the premise of the book and is a wonderful way for an American audience to get acquainted with Islam.
Many Windows: Six Kids, Five Faiths, One Community: A collection of interconnected short stories of six classmates of different faiths and shared love of basketball which brings them together. It explores how friendship and religious tolerance create community.
The Wise Fool: Fables from the Islamic World: Eccentric, engaging and irreverent, Nasruddin always has a twinkle in his eye, a sliver of wisdom in his ramblings and a few good surprises up his sleeve.
The Arabian Nights: An engrossing translation of eight stories from the 1001 Nights collection of fantasy and folklore common throughout the Middle East and South Asia.
The Kidnapping of Amir Hamza: These adventure stories of daring princess, dragons, flying demons and stories are popular all over the Islamic World.
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and other Stories: See how Ali Baba trip to the forest leads him to adventure and riches from the secret treasure cave, and how he must outwit the forty thieves.
RELATED: See Folktales from Islamic Traditions book list
MIDDLE GRADE (10+)
A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic: Two girls on opposite sides of the world have a shared adventure through the pages of a magical book. This fantasy tale combines issues of belonging and finding oneself with humor and shows us how we are more alike than different.
Shooting Kabul: Fadi’s family immigration from Afghanistan to California is beset with tragedy as his younger sister gets left behind. An authentic portrayal of Afghan Pashtun culture, Shooting Kabul manages to educate readers on Afghan history, the Taliban and Islam while skillfully telling us a universal story about family, love and belonging.
Ms Marvel Vol. 1: A true blue (ok brown) teenage Muslim superhero? Bring her on! A gutsy non-traditional heroine buoyed by strong writing and visually popping art and did we mention a cape?
Nine, Ten: A September 11 story: A look at the intersecting lives of four kids from across America and how 9/11 changed their lives and ushered them into adulthood. A powerful account of young lives interrupted and the journey from hate and fear to a realization of our similarities.
A Long Pitch Home: When Bilal has to move suddenly from Pakistan to America, he encounters many unfamiliar things that confuse him. A moving and realistic depiction of the immigrant experience through the eyes of a child.
Growing up Muslim : Understanding Muslim Beliefs and Practices: A clear and eloquent book that draws on the author’s personal experiences growing up in America to dispel a number of misconceptions about Islam.
RELATED: See Celebrating Islam book list
YOUNG ADULT (12+)
Ask Me No Questions: This gripping tale puts a human face on the issue of illegal immigration.The novel showcases how Nadira steels herself against prejudice and the long shadows of fear.
Bestest Ramadan Ever: Almira is your typical American teenager trying to balance homework, high school friendships, crushes and fitting in - all while keeping her more traditional family at bay.
Find the entire collection here
Our book will equip public and school library staff, including educators and collection development librarians, to make real change in their communities by validating lived experiences of Muslim kids and building a stronger sense of empathy, respect, and understanding towards Muslims.
Support our ‘Counter Islamophobia through Stories’ campaign and help us make a difference:
(i) Spread the Word: Share our booklists and author interviews with friends, teachers, librarians and parents.Gift copies of Muslims in Story: Expanding Multicultural Understanding through Children's and Young Adult Literature.
(ii) Buy One, Donate One: Support diversity in the classroom and at home by buying books from the Counter Islamophobia through Stories collection. Get one or more of these books for your home, and/or donate them to schools and libraries around you.
(iii) Start a Discussion with children in your community. Use our books coupled with lesson plans to move from stories to ideas to action.