This book for young children is about a Somali Muslim family living in the U.S. and how they celebrate Ramadan.
Muslims practice the religion of Islam, and their most holy time is the month of Ramadan. Young Rashad tells readers about this holiday period, which consists of a month of fasting and prayer. Muslims, like Jews, go by a lunar calendar, meaning that months for religious purposes begin with each new moon. Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar calendar, and is thought to be the time when the first verses of the Quran, or holy book of the Muslims, were received by the Prophet Muhammad.
Healthy adults and children over the age of twelve fast all day during Ramadan, only eating before sunrise in the morning and after sundown at night. Fasting and praying help focus attention on to Allah (the name by which Muslims refer to God). Fasting is also a way to become more aware of the suffering of the poor and hungry, and thus Ramadan is also a time of charity and giving to others.
Rashad is the first one to spot the new moon this year signaling the beginning of Ramadan. This will also be the first year he is going to try to fast – at least for one day – and he is very excited at the opportunity to feel closer to Allah.
His favorite part of the holiday is the celebration at the end of Ramadan (at the next new moon). Called Eid al-Fitr, it is a time to give praise and thanksgiving to Allah. It also involves a huge festival with lights and decorations, feasting, and distributing charity to those in need.
Evaluation: The simple text is supplemented by callout boxes throughout the book that give more detailed information about the customs mentioned by Rashad. At the end of the book, there is a glossary, recommended sources for additional exploration, and instructions for making a “moon can,” which is a collection box for money to give to the poor during Ramadan.
Holli Conger provides the whimsical and colorful illustrations for which she is so well known.
Published by Millbrook Press, 2012