Sunday, March 26, 2006

Books for muslim children

There are some books that I really loved reading to my children and the best thing about them was that they had muslim characters, which is very rare to find in your local library. Here are some books that we found in our local library that were about muslim families and/or cultures.

Muslim Child: Understanding Islam Through Stories and Poems by Rukhsana Khan - I cannot talk enough about this book. This is a great book for all muslim children. Actually there are many books by Rukhsana Khan that I love. Here are just a couple and you can see more on her website.

Silly Chicken - This adorable story is about a girl named Rani who lives in Pakistan with her mother and "Bibi" the hen.

Ruler of the Courtyard - Another story set in Pakistan about a girl named Saba who conquers her fears!

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter – A very touching story that really shows the value of books.

Sitti's Secrets (Aladdin Picture Books) by Naomi Shihab Nye – I really loved this book. This is a lovely story about an American girl who visits her grandmother in Palestine.

Sami and the Time of the Troubles by Florence Parry Heide – This is about a 10 year old boy in Lebanon during wartime. It can be a bit dark and sad for children, but it really helps them to appreciate all of Allah’s blessings.

Day of Ahmed's Secret by Florence H. Parry - This beautiful book is about a young Egyptian boy who travels the city of Cairo carrying a secret which he wants to share with his family that evening.

My Rows and Piles of Coins by Tololwa M. Mollel – Since I read this a while ago I don’t remember exactly if they mentioned the boy was muslim in this story but this is such a wonderful story about a young boy in Tanzania in the 1960s trying to save money to buy a bike.

The Color of Home by Mary Hoffman – Alright this book made me totally start crying while I was reading this to my girls and they started looking at me all worried but this really is a wonderful story about a young boy from Somalia named Hassan who recently moved to America and is very homesick.

There are many, many more that I haven’t had a chance to even read yet but you can see some more on Rukhsana Khan’s website in her Muslim Children’s Books section.

(April 5, 2006)
Recently I have read two more books that had muslim characters in it so I wanted to review them and add them to this list as well.

My Name Is Bilal by Asma Mobin-Uddin - This was a good book. My daughter couldn't relate to it that well, probably because of her age and other reasons but she always likes to see books with women wearing hijab in it. This book is about a muslim brother and sister that start a new school and the sister is being teased because of her hijab. First the brother is embarrassed and does not even want to tell everyone his muslim name but instead Americanizes it. But of course finally he is able to stick up for his sister and himself. This is a good book for muslim children that are having difficulties adjusting to school and also non-muslim children so they can familiarize themselves more with islam.

Nadia's Hands by Karen English - This book does not mention islam at all nor does it say that the people are muslim. However it is about a Pakistani-American girl who is to be a flower girl at her aunt's wedding and she does not want to wear mehndi (henna) on her hands because she's worried about what people will say at school. All of the characters had muslim names but this story is more about pakistani culture so it's quite interesting if you want your children to learn more about that and it also has several urdu words in it as well. It also teaches children how important patience is when Nadia was waiting for her henna to dry. It was cute and my daughter enjoyed it because she loves to put mehndi on as well. :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Florida Lapbook

Back in February I worked on a lapbook with my four year old. We did a very simple one since it was the first time for both of us. Here are some images of it. I've censored her name from the cover. :)

We just did the state nickname, flower, bird, flag and tree on the inside. Basically we had a picture and some very basic information for each.

We're going to start another soon, but I haven't decided on the topic yet.

Prophet Muhammad's family tree

This is the family tree we worked on in February. I finally got a chance to take a picture of it. We just turned our blessings tree that we did in the month of Ramadhan into this family tree.

Arba’een (Chehlum of Shuhada-e-Karbala)

Arba’een has come and gone and the month of safar is also coming to an end. Soon the commemoration of the tragedy of Karbala and the sacrifice of the Imam will all be set aside until next year. This year was the first year I started teaching my children about Imam Hussain (as). My four year old has really grasped quite a bit and at one point during one of the majlis she turned to me and told me she felt very sad for Bibi Sakina while the speaker was reading about her. I’m really happy at every thing she has understood and accomplished this Muharram. Inshallah I’ll keep reviewing it through the year and we’ll be able to pick up from where we left off next year. She’s also already started practicing another nawha to read at the little girl’s majlis next year. My two year old is very eager to read with her as well. I’ll be blogging more about my two year old soon, inshallah.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Why is it that every two year old wants to dump a whole bowl of spaghetti on top of their heads and then rub it in real well as soon as you look away???

Sunday, March 12, 2006

She did it!

Well yesterday was the day for the little girl’s majlis at our local center. When it was her turn she took her nawha book to the front of the room. I followed her and then I was given the microphone to hold it close to her while she read her nawha. Since she was the youngest reader there, she was the first to begin the nawhas. Everyone was anxiously waiting for her to begin. She opened her nawha book and then noticed that I was holding the microphone close to her. She turns to me and in the microphone she says, “mama I want to hold the microphone.” I told her that she needs to hold her book with one hand and do matam with her other hand and she needs to start reading now. Then she says “why do you get to hold it?” I felt like bursting out laughing because we’re having a whole conversation while all the others are waiting for us to start. So again I just said for her to start reading and she started so quickly, loudly and with such confidence I was a bit surprised myself. She read very well with a lot of confidence and didn’t even make one mistake. Afterward every lady in the room approached me and told me how wonderful she read. They all praised her as well and she was smiling from ear to ear, so proud of herself. The funniest thing was, they were all telling me how well she spoke the Urdu in the nawha and it’s a good thing I was teaching her at home. I felt like laughing but I just smiled. Little do they know she can barely even understand Urdu, let alone speak it. I just kept correcting her accent when she was practicing and she just seemed to have got it. Anyhow, I’m proud of her that she did well and glad that she did it, but also very relieved that it’s over. She wasn’t nervous about doing it at all, but I was definitely nervous for her. Now I don’t have to worry about it again till next year!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Word magnets

My husband got my four year old some word magnets so she can have some fun making sentences. I don't know where he got these magnets because they have some funny words in them. So these are some sentences she's made so far:

1) I feel better and I am awesome
2) We are a happy family
and the funniest one:
3) I live richly and I am delighted

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Pen pals

I have a lot of family in Toronto so when I took the girls to visit last July they became quite friendly with some of my younger cousins. My four year old really got attached to my nine year old cousin there and talked about her so much when we got back. So back in October I decided to let her write her a letter (I wrote, she dictated) to tell her how much she appreciated her and how she missed her a lot and some other things about herself. She also drew some pictures for her too. I let her seal the envelope and then I wrote the address on there while she stuck on the stamp. Then we went to the post office and mailed it off. She was very happy and proud. I guess she had felt better about being able to say/write down what she was feeling and stopped harassing me about missing her so much.

Then about a month later she got a reply from my cousin, which I didn’t expect, but it made my four year old so excited. First because she got mail, and second because she now had a pen pal. Now every month we get a new letter and we reply to her letters. The girls send little gifts of artwork to each other. It’s very sweet and so wonderful to see this happening between them. I talked to my uncle and aunt in Toronto about this too and they are so happy that we started to do this because their daughter gets so excited to receive a letter too and loves to make things for her little niece and send them over.

In their recent letters they’ve been talking about what movies they both love and what books they are currently reading. My cousin made an origami crane and my four year old was just amazed by it.

I’m so happy that she has found someone that has the same interests and loves her so very much to take the time and do this with her. I can tell that it has really made their friendship much stronger and they can’t wait to see each other in July again.

Monday, March 06, 2006

West Palm Beach

My sister came down to West Palm Beach (from Toronto) for work related reasons so we drove down there too. It’s approximately 2.5 hours drive away and the girls had a really good time. My four year old learned more about north and south. I showed her on her globe that we were traveling to West Palm Beach which is south of Orlando.

We saw the beach near worth avenue and it is absolutely beautiful. The water was so blue and the sand was completely white. We sat there a bit and enjoyed the ocean air. It was so relaxing and refreshing.

The girls’ loved spending the weekend with their aunt. Now they can’t wait when we visit Toronto again in July!

"Homeschooling grows quickly in United States"

CNN article on homeschooling:
Homeschooling grows quickly in United States

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Teaching your child to read!

There are some great (and very expensive) programs out there that will assist you in teaching your child how to read. Here are some things that I do and have done with my four year old that has helped a great deal.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons - I cannot say enough about this book because this is the book that started it all! I actually bought this book and started using it before I was even “officially” homeschooling. In three months a three year old girl went from knowing the abc song and a few letters to reading at 2nd grade level. Now that 4 year old girl today is reading at 4th grade level. A four year old is reading chapter books and I know she would not have been at this level so quickly if it hadn’t been for the amazing phonics lessons taught in this book. She can sound out any word!

Reading Rescue 1-2-3 - This is the next book that I have been using with her after using “Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons.” It has so much good advice on how to teach your child to rhyme and how to use the “to with and by” technique, and much more. This has also helped in her reading tremendously. The author of this book also has a great website too that has pretty much all the info on it: Teach a child to read!

3.) Take your child to the library or bookstore weekly! I take her to the library at least once a week, no matter what! We have story time every Thursday at our local library which I try and make it to every week. She checks out 30-40 different books every week, and reads them all!

4.) Read to your child! I read to her at least two times a day for at least 15 minutes each time. But usually it’s much more and much longer than that. I also have her read to me at least 15 minutes a day too, which is her favorite part of the day! She loves to read and loves being read to.

5.) Read in front of your child! Make a time of the day which is a reading time for the whole family. All of you sit in one room together and mom reads her own book and the children read their own books quietly in their heads. Obviously my toddler doesn’t read quietly, she opens up her books and babbles on like she knows what she’s reading, but it’s very easy to tune out and it’s very important to include her in this family event. This shows that reading is an important part of the day in everyone’s lives.

I guarantee that if you spend a few minutes daily with your child just reading one or two books to them, they will quickly learn to read themselves; some children pick it up on their own.

Some additional books and websites that can also assist with reading:

A Home Start in Reading (Grades K-3)by Ruth Beechick – If you are going to purchase this book, I suggest you invest a few extra dollars more and purchase The Three R's- This set of three books sold at is a great buy because it not only has A Home Start in Reading (Grades K-3)but two other books by Dr. Beechick that are also very good for homechoolers An Easy Start in Arithmetic (Grades K-3)(which is a wonderful book) and Strong Start in Language: Grades K-3 Three R's Series) (which is great for grammar). - The Starfall learn-to-read website is offered free as a public service. - StudyDog Basic is a full curriculum software reading program for pre-K through 2nd grade. (And it’s free!)

I hope I have answered all the questions I got regarding this subject. When I started this blog, I really didn’t expect people to actually read it. I was just using it as a journal to record my thoughts but I’m glad people are finding it useful and helpful.

For now this is all the info I have. If I think of anything else, I will make sure and add it!” by Ruth Beechick