Best Books to Help Children Understand Islamic Faith and Culture

This round up of books that can help children understand and appreciate Islamic faith and culture was inspired by Gauri Manglik and Sadaf Siddique, the owners of KitaabWorld. KitaabWorld is a fantastic online children’s book store focused on South Asian cultures. This month, they’ve been encouraging parents and educators to counter Islamophobia through stories.

After all, it’s stories that help us to understand another person’s journey. It’s stories that help us to see that while while we have important differences as people, we have even more in common.



King for a Day by Rukhsana Khan and Christiane Kromer

Malik, a boy who lives in Lahore, Pakistan, looks forward to the spring festival of Basant all year. People all over the city will be testing their kite flying skills, and Malik knows he will be king of the festival. His brother and sister are surprised at the small size of his kite Falcon.

Yet with Malik’s skill, Falcon is swift enough the capture the huge, expensive flag of the bully who has called his sister bad names. Soon his expertise provides him with another opportunity to show compassion to a young child on the street below. (Recommended for ages 5 – 9).

book 2


The Wise Fool: Fables from the Islamic World by Shahrukh Husain and Micha Archer 

Mulla Nasruddin is a legendary character whose wisdom and mischievousness is enjoyed throughout the Arab world. Archer’s colorful tissue paper and stamp artwork bring’s Mulla’s humorous misadventures to life for children.

Somewhat like the court jester in Western societies, Mulla is not afraid to tell the truth to any person, whether the emperor or a peasant.  Though he is wise, some of the fables also show his own foolishness that gets him into embarrassing situations. The book includes a glossary and pronunciation guide to help children understand references that may not be familiar with in the fables. (Recommended for ages 6 – 10).

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The Silly Chicken by Idries Shah and Jeff Jackson

The Silly Chicken is a humorous Sufi story of a chicken who is always “tuck-tuck-tuck-tuck.” People are sure he must be trying to tell them something, so a clever man teaches the chicken to speak as humans do.

When the chicken declares that “the earth is going to swallow us up,” panic spreads, with people running all around the earth in an attempt to escape it. This funny tale, which has been told for over 1,000 years, will help children understand that just because someone says something is true, does not mean that it is. (Recommended for ages 4 – 8).



The Grand Mosque of Parisby Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland DeSaix

This little known true story of how Muslims protected Jews during the Holocaust is one that children and adults alike should know about. During the Nazi occupation of Paris, few Parisians were ready to risk their lives by harboring Jewish people. Many Jews and escaped prisoners of war found refuge in the Grand Mosque of Paris, a place of worship and a community center that made an ideal temporary hiding place.

The rector of the mosque went to great lengths to protect Salim Halali, an Algerian Jew, even making a false certificate of conversion to make the Nazis believe Halali had converted to Islam. A stonecarver went so far to inscribe the family name on an unmarked tombstone to show further “proof” that Halali was Muslim. Halali was just one of the many people who survived the war because of the Grand Mosque. (Recommended for ages 9 – 12).

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Amal’s Ramadan by Amy Maranville and Josh Stevens

Amal is excited because at age 12, he is finally old enough to fast during Ramadan. Using simple vocabulary, Amal introduces preschool-age children to the daily rituals of Ramadan and the meaning of the fast.

Though Amal’s parents tell him that he may not feel well during the fast, Amal is surprised when he feels so dizzy that he has to go to see the summer camp nurse. He’s embarrassed that he has to break his fast by drinking juice. But when his grandmother shares that she too had to break her very first fast, Amal realizes that he can try again tomorrow. (Recommended for ages 3- 7).



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