For hundreds of years, books have been a wonderful resource to bring to light new views.
So it’s no surprise that if you want to expose children to Islam, it’s best to turn to books at an early age.
The following eight children books do a great job of introducing remarkable Muslims from times past and modern society. I would recommend them as a must for any children’s library, not just ones in Muslim homes, to expose children to the rich, vast civilization of Islam.
The Muslims in these books were pioneers that greatly impacted the world. I took some books from an old list I created back in 2010 of Children’s Books about/for Arab Children, but have expanded on it to include newly published books.
I am an Amazon affiliate member and you can find my list of books here. Feel free to buy any of these books there and shukran (Arabic for thank you) for continuing to support my research.
Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya
The inspiring, true story of Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who stands up and speaks out for every child’s right to education. Though she and two of her schoolmates were targeted by a Taliban gunman, a life-threatening injury only strengthened her resolve. Malala spoke at the U.N. on her 16th birthday in 2013, nine months after she was shot. Author and journalist Karen Leggett Abouraya, author of Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books, brings Malala’s story to life for young readers. Malala’s story is more than a biography of a brave and outspoken teenager. It is a testament to the power of education to change the world for boys and girls everywhere. “Winner of the California Reading Association’s 2015 EUREKA! Honor Award”
Al-Ghazali By Demi
The importance of al-Ghazali in the intellectual and spiritual history of both the Western and Islamic world cannot be too highly estimated. He is considered to be the savior of Islam because in his 40-volume opus magnum, The Revival of the Religion Sciences, he clarifies the spiritual meanings and inner purposes of every aspect of the Islamic faith. This book, an illustrated biography for both parents and children—with adjacent text for both—presents this inspiring life with exquisite miniatures in the Persian style. The biography covers his humble birth and education, rise to fame, spiritual crisis, and subsequent journeying to find the Truth in Syria, Palestine, and Mecca before returning home, having purified his heart. The text is distilled from his own autobiography, Deliverance from Error, written in the 11th century CE and from other scholarly biographies.
Extraordinary Women from the Muslim World By Natalie Maydell
Multi-award winning picture book chronicling the lives of 13 Muslim women in history who have lived extraordinary lives and influenced their communities in a positive way, often overcoming extreme hardship and inaccurate stereotypes that have been placed on the role of women in Islam. The following women are profiled in the book: 1) Khadija bint Khuwaylid – Arabia – First Wife of the Prophet (pbuh); 2) Aisha bint Abi Bakr – Arabia – Wife of the Prophet (pbuh); 3) Al-Khansa – Arabia – Poet; 4) Rabi a al-Adawiyya – Iraq – Woman Saint; 5) Arwa bint Ahmed al-Sulayhiyya – Yemen – Queen of Yemen; 6) Sultan Razia – India – Warrior Queen of Delhi; 7) Nana Asmau – Nigeria – Scholar and Poet; 8) Tjut Njak Dien – Indonesia – Guerrilla Leader; 9) Halide Edib Adivar Turkey – Novelist and Activist; 10) Umm Kulthum – Egypt – Singer; 11) Sabiha Gokcen – Turkey – Military Pilot; 12) Chaibia Tallal – Morocco – Painter; and 13) Shirin Ebadi – Iran – Nobel Peace
My Prophet Muhammad (S) By Yasmin Mussa
My Prophet Muhammad (S) encapsulates the timeless story of the life of the best and final Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S). Designed for early childhood, this rendering of the Seerah serves as an ideal first acquaintance with the miraculous story of Allah s finest creation. With its vivid illustrations and appropriately rendered authorship, this book is designed to increase your child s knowledge, appreciation and love for the Prophet Muhammad (S). My Prophet Muhammad (S) is a picture board book, containing 24 pages, a soft sponge cover with special glitter, varnish and metallic shine effects.
1001 Inventions and Awesome Facts from Muslim Civilization By National Geographic
We often think that people from a thousand years ago were living in the Dark Ages. But from the 7th century onward in Muslim civilization there were amazing advances and inventions that still influence our everyday lives. People living in the Muslim world saw what the Egyptians, Chinese, Indians, Greek, and Romans had discovered and spent the next one thousand years adding new developments and ideas. Inventors created marvels like the elephant water clock, explorers drew detailed maps of the world, women made scientific breakthroughs and founded universities, architects built huge domes larger than anywhere else on earth, astronomers mapped the stars and so much more! This book takes the wining formula of facts, photos, and fun, and applies it to this companion book to the 1001 Inventions exhibit from the Foundation for Science, Technology, and Civilization. Each page is packed with information on this little-known history, but also shows how it still applies to our world today.
Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X By Ilyasah Shabazz
Malcolm X grew to be one of America’s most influential figures. But first, he was a boy named Malcolm Little. Written by his daughter, this inspiring picture book biography celebrates a vision of freedom and justice.
Bolstered by the love and wisdom of his large, warm family, young Malcolm Little was a natural born leader. But when confronted with intolerance and a series of tragedies, Malcolm’s optimism and faith were threatened. He had to learn how to be strong and how to hold on to his individuality. He had to learn self-reliance.
Together with acclaimed illustrator AG Ford, Ilyasah Shabazz gives us a unique glimpse into the childhood of her father, Malcolm X, with a lyrical story that carries a message that resonates still today—that we must all strive to live to our highest potential.
The Amazing Discoveries of Ibn Sina By Fatima Sharafeddine
Born in Persia more than a thousand years ago, Ibn Sina was one of the greatest thinkers of his time — a philosopher, scientist and physician who made significant discoveries, especially in the field of medicine, and wrote more than one hundred books. As a child, Ibn Sina was extremely bright, a voracious reader who loved to learn and was fortunate to have the best teachers. He memorized the Qur’an by the age of ten and completed his medical studies at sixteen. He spent his life traveling, treating the sick, seeking knowledge through research, and writing about his discoveries. He came up with new theories in the fields of physics, chemistry, astronomy and education. His most famous work is The Canon of Medicine, a collection of books that were used for teaching in universities across the Islamic world and Europe for centuries. Ibn Sina’s story, told in the first person and beautifully illustrated, provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of the great intellects of the past.
Saladin: Noble Prince of Islam By Diane Stanley
Forty years before the boy was born, a horde of bloodthirsty barbarians thundered out of the west and conquered his native land. They had succeeded because his people, ever at war with one another, had not fought together to defend their cities. In time the boy was destined to become the very leader that was needed, a man with the courage and vision to unite his people and face the most fearsome and brilliant warrior of the age.
The time was the twelfth century; the barbarian horde was the armies of the First Crusade; the great warrior was Richard the Lionhearted; and the leader was Saladin. This is more than the other side of a familiar Western story, the Crusades. It is the tale of an extraordinary man, remarkable for his generous and chivalrous ways, a warrior who longed for peace. Courageous in battle and merciful in victory, he would be revered even by his enemies as the “marvel of his time.”
In her vibrant narrative and magnificently detailed illustrations inspired by the Islamic art of the time, Diane Stanley presents a hero whose compassion, piety, tolerance, and wisdom made him a model for his time — and for ours.
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