The first week of February is recognized by the United Nations as World Interfaith Harmony Week. With a call to people of all faiths to come together and work towards a culture of peace, this week celebrates inter-faith dialogue, mutual understanding and respect.
In that same spirit of goodwill, here are some books which share stories of communities and people of different faiths coming together in friendship to showcase the larger ideals of humanity.
It's Ok to be Different: Most children prefer to blend in so they don’t feel alone or stand out, but what if your outfit is visibly different, or your food smells different? This book gives children confidence in their individuality and reassures them that it’s ok to be different!
A Moon for Moe and Me: Moses and Mohammad live in the same Brooklyn neighborhood and get mistaken for brothers at their local grocery shop. That sows the seeds of a budding friendship with room for both rugelach and date cookies.
Mukand and Riaz: Mukand and Riaz's friendship grows on lazy afternoons playing games and eating ice cream. The book offers a textured look at the interconnected lives of Hindu, Muslim and Sikhs of Karachi. Caught in the whirlwind of the Partition, their lives are altered but shared memories and shared histories still remain.
Never Say A Mean Word Again!: Samuel's two run-ins with Hamza led to an exchange of some mean words. While Samuel tries to get payback, his ideas seem to take both of them into another direction! A humorous tale sure to leave children with something to talk about! Also see: Snow in Jerusalem, about a Muslim and Jewish boy and how they come to be friends.
Sandwich Swap: Two best friends have a spat about sandwiches. Neither of them can stand the others lunch! A peanut butter sandwich is Lily's favorite while Salma's favors her hummus sandwich for lunch everyday. Though this difference pulls them apart, in the end, it brings them and the whole school together.
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. A timely reminder of the ties of humanity and brotherhood between communities, it echoes a quote familiar to both Jews and Muslims, “Save one life and it is as if you have saved all of humanity.”
Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam: Yaffa and Fatima live their lives as loving neighbors and friends. They work in adjoining farms, sell their wares together at the market and share coffee and conversation. Inspired from a folktale with both Jewish and Arabic roots, this story shows us how in hard times neither let their faith change their friendship.
Queen of the Hannukah Dosas: A multicultural tale of a multi-faith family! With Sadie's Indian mom and Jewish dad, hannukah is a mix of Jewish celebrations with an Indian flavor!
Tales of Wit and Wisdom: Akbar and Birbal: One of India's most loved and respected Mughal king Akbar was known for his religious tolerance. His beloved royal advisor, Birbal was quick with wit and wisdom for his king. Their stories remain popular in Indian folklore to this day.
This series of books entitled Faith in Friendship has a collection of stories of children from Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. Each story examines the traditions, practices and beliefs of the religion in an attempt towards creating tolerance and understanding.
The Whole Story of Half A Girl: Lots of changes are headed Sonia's way - moving from a public to a private school, trying to fit in with her new peers while dealing with emotional and financial changes at home. Her half-Indian, half-Jewish identity gets put under the microscope in these turbulent times.
Ticket to India: Maya and Zara end up on a trip to their grandmother's ancestral home in India to find the secret treasure chest hidden by her family ages ago. This fast paced adventure story oscillates back the past during the Partition and swings ahead with Maya and a young orphan named Jai who must complete the search!
RELATED: Read author Naheed Senzai's interview here
A Moment Comes: Three teenagers, a Sikh, Muslim and Christian, lives get intertwined and inseparable from the historical events around them. As Partition looms, each of their divergent paths comes together as a story frozen in time that examines the spectrum of the human experience.
My Basmati Bat Mitzvah: A cross cultural story of an Indian-Jewish girl figuring out her identity. Caught up drama of a young teenager, Tara also has to figure out if she can wear a sari for her Batmitzvah and if she really wants to have a Batmitzvah at all!
The Night Diary: Newly minted Newbery Honor book, The Night Diary unfolds during the Partition and is told through the eyes of half-Muslim, half-Hindu girl Nisha. The book examines this traumatic time and her search for home and herself.
For more books on these faiths see here: