Happy Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017

Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day, now in it’s fourth year.

I’m so excited to be a co-Host this year to add my review for Naji and the Mystery Dig. It was a wonderful book that explains Persian Muslim culture.


On the main MCBD site, there is a linky going on right now for reviewers of books that allow your child to #ReadYourWorld.


I thought I would pull out all the book lists, book related tutorials and reviews that have been posted on ACraftyArab in one easy spot also.


Book lists

5 Books with Strong Arab Protagonist

6 Arabic Dictionaries for Children

7 Stories of Arab Friendship

8 Books about Remarkable Muslims

11 Arabic Folktales

14 Books to Introduce Teens to the Arab World

85 Books about the Arab World

99 Arab Children Books

99 Muslim Children Books


Book related tutorials

Eid Mubarak Punch Out Bookmark Tutorial

Iqra Painted Bookmark Tutorial

Iqra Yarn Art Tutorial

Mini Eid Book Tutorial {and Bookmark Downloads}

Moon and Star Punch Art Bookmark Tutorial


Book reviews

Amal’s Ramadan / Amal’s Eid

How Many Donkeys?

My First Ramadan

Naji and the Mystery Dig
Please be sure to join the Twitter party happening at 9pm EST to win some amazing diverse literature books for children. Stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest for more book selections, including ones from my Arab authors book club.




Mosque Pillow {Tutorial}

ACraftyArab Mosque Pillow

Ramadan 2016 is right around the corner for millions of Muslims worldwide.


During this holy month, Muslims fast daily from sunup to sundown and use this holy month to become closer to their religion, family and community.


When I am performing my Arabic storytelling sessions at local libraries, one of my favorite books to explain this requirement of Islam is the children’s book, My First Ramadan by Karen Katz. It tells a simple story of the Muslim celebration of Ramadan through the eyes of a small child.

ACraftyArab Mosque PillowIG2

The illustrations are very bright and cheerful and give details about what Muslims wear and what their practices look like.  (Well, except for the one photo of the Muslim family wearing shoes while praying inside.  If you have gone anywhere near a mosque and seen the hundreds of piles of shoes outside, you would know that Muslims don’t pray with shoes on.  But I digress.)


One of the children’s favorite images in the book is the mosque, where Muslims gather to pray together.  Their eyes light up when I get to the page that shows this beautiful place and I might hear an occasional “ohhh” and “ahhh.”


A few weeks ago, Multicultural Kid Blogs asked me to be part of it’s  second annual Ramadan for Kids blog hop.   This is where a few bloggers come together to share ideas about honoring this special month (feel free to follow our ideas – Ramadan board).


I knew I wanted to make the mosque from My Little Ramadan so that I can use it as a plush toy at my storytimes. I took photos to turn my project into a tutorial so that you can make one too.  (Feel free to use my affiliate link to buy your own copy of the book or sewing supplies. It doesn’t cost you any extra to use my links and I get a small commission that helps pay for future tutorials.)

Be sure to check out the rest of my fellow #MKBKids bloggers taking part of the Blog Hop at the end of this Mosque Pillow tutorial.


Various scraps of fabric
Various scraps of ribbon
Cotton thread
Sewing gauge
Rotary cutter
Marking pencil
Double heat bond interface
Sticky back felt
Star gem stickers
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Here’s the deal, I’m a fabric hoarder.  I have shelves and shelves.  I do go through once a year and clean out boxes to give to my local Buy Nothing group, but I still have drawers that look like this.

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I went through it all and picked out fabric in these colors to try to best match the ones in the book.

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I ended up not using that fringe and made a side trip to a fabric store for a better idea for the gold roof. Total cost for the whole project: $4 for the roof ribbon. Score.


First thing I like to do with any project is set aside some time to do the layout. I keep this by my sewing machine to help remind me what the final will look like.

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After I have the basic visual down, I pinned my main fabric in half and used my quilting pencil to draw the design.

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I then took out my gauge and added another 3/4 inch all around the entire shape. I cut from this second, larger outline and set both pieces aside.

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To make my door and windows, I folded the fabric in half, used my rotary cutter to free hand a straight along one side and added a half } shape to the top.

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I cut out two more smaller, similar shapes for the inside of the door.

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For the windows, I did the same thing, but on a much smaller scale.

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I made two larger taller windows for the side of the door and four smaller windows.  I also cut out two 3/4 inch borders for the top and bottom of the mosque and smaller 3/4 borders for under the windows.

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I placed all my pieces on the heat bond interface and carefully ironed them. I like to use a smaller iron because it allows me to place the heat where I need it.  You can use a regular iron, but be careful the exposed interface might stick to your iron.

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I cut all the pieces out and set them aside.

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To make the decorations over the front door, I cut 1/2 inch squares from adhesive felt. These were so small, honestly I just didn’t want to try to sew them and used the adhesive felt out of laziness.  If you are going to make this as a gift for a child, please use regular felt and sew these on so they don’t end up in someone’s mouth.

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Once everything is cut and ready, I took the backing off the interface fabric (but not the felt!!) and started playing around with the design.

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Once I liked the design, I ironed on my details. I then pinned down the outline ribbons and newly acquired gold roof ribbon (so worth that $4, right?) and set it aside.

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The mosque in My First Ramadan has a little cupola on top. I thought it might be fun to turn this into a tab to carry the mosque, or hang it from a hook.  To create this tab, I cut out a little extra piece of fabric in a rectangle.

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I folded it in half lengthwise, headed to the sewing machine with it and my pinned mosque.  I sewed on all the ribbon and added a few details to the boarders.

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I also sewed my tab along one side, on the long fold.

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Then I turned it inside out and ironed it flat.

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Now it was ready to be folded in half and added to the top of my mosque.  I make sure to put it’s raw edges along the same side as the raw edges of my dome.

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I placed my blank pillow frame over this decorated pillow frame, main sides facing each other, and pinned them together.  Tip – when I pin a stuffie, I use colored pins as my starting and stopping points and regular pins everywhere else.  I need to leave an opening to turn my pillow inside out and having the coloring pins there remind me.

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Sew all around the pillow, going twice over the tab for security.  When I was done, I had a 3/4 boarder all around.

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I cut out little triangles from the corners to help disperse bulges once the pillow is flipped.

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I also went around the dome and cut off any extra ribbon and added slits all the way around.  This was a good time for me to cut off all the extra string too.

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I gently turned the pillow inside out and stuffed the inside.  I hand stitched my opening closed.

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I added my blue adhesive felt squares and the gem stars too.

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And how cute is this tab turn out?

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Now my pillow is ready to give to the kids when they hear my stories. I’m worried that they’ll fight over it. It was so easy to make, I think I need more!  Time to head back to that fabric drawer…


To enjoy more mosque crafts, please visit 99 Mosque Creative Projects. To learn more about Islam, please visit 99 Muslim Children Books.
To see what my fellow bloggers are posting for the #MKBKids Ramadan for Kids series, please visit  –

ArabBaba on Multicultural Kid Blogs
A Crafty Arab
All Done Monkey
Colours of Us
Crafty Moms Share
Creative World of Varya
Global Advocate Jr.
Kid World Citizen
La Cité des Vents

Ramadan for Kids 2016 | Multicultural Kid Blogs


5 Books with Strong Arab Protagonist {Resource}

5 Books with strong Arab Protagonist by A Crafty Arab

Arabs are a group of people that live across North Africa and parts of the Middle East (this region is commonly known as MENA). There are 22 countries that are recognized under the Arab League as Arab, but they all have different food, clothing, religions, political histories and even weather!

What ties all 22 countries to each other is Arabic, a Central Semitic language.


This language is spoken with hundreds of dialects in the Arab world. But Modern Standard Arabic, also known as Literary Arabic, is the official written down form.


This Modern Standard Arabic is what ties all 22 counties to each other because this allows a newspaper printed in Yemen to be read in Morocco. Yet a Moroccan and Yemeni might need an interpreter to talk to each other because of their dialects!


Language, education and literature have always held a high place in MENA and in fact the very first university in the world was founded by a woman in this area, The University of al-Qarawiyyin.


It should come as no surprise that so many books have been written celebrating this area. Back in September 2010, I even compiled a list of them.

I wanted to compile a few of my favorites that I have at home that showcase strong Arab protagonist. (a protagonist is the main character in a novel).

Check your local bookstore for them and then just slip them into your shelves.  Once you notice your child reading them, unprompted, then start a conversation about the Arab world and it’s many dialects, but one language.

(I recently became an Amazon affiliate member and you are welcome to visit my store here.)


book cover
5 Books with strong Arab Protagonist by A Crafty Arab

Abdel-Fattah, Randa. Does my head look big in this? New York: Orchard Books, 2007.

Review from Booklist –

Like the author of this breakthrough debut novel, Amal is an Australian-born, Muslim Palestinian “whacked with some seriously confusing identity hyphens.” At 16, she loves shopping, watches Sex and the City, and IMs her friends about her crush on a classmate. She also wants to wear the hijab, to be strong enough to show a badge of her deeply held faith, even if she confronts insults from some at her snotty prep school, and she is refused a part-time job in the food court (she is “not hygienic”). Her open-minded observant physician parents support her and so do her friends, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, secular. Her favorite teacher finds her a private space to pray. The first-person present-tense narrative is hilarious about the diversity, and sometimes heartbreaking. For her uncle who wants to assimilate, “foreign” is the f-word, and his overdone Aussie slang and flag-waving is a total embarrassment. On the other hand, her friend Leila nearly breaks down when her ignorant Turkish mom wants only to marry her daughter off (“Why study?”) and does not know that it is Leila’s Islamic duty “to seek knowledge, to gain an education.” Without heavy preaching, the issues of faith and culture are part of the story, from fasting at Ramadan to refusing sex before marriage. More than the usual story of the immigrant teen’s conflict with her traditional parents, the funny, touching contemporary narrative will grab teens everywhere.

5 Books with strong Arab Protagonist by A Crafty Arab

* Matze, Claire Sidhom. The Stars in My Geddoh’s Sky. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman, 2000

From Kirkus Reviews –
A summertime visit from his grandfather reveals to a young boy the history of his ancestry. When Alex first meets his grandfather, or geddoh, he is anxious. However, they soon develop a close rapport as his grandfather tells him about life across the sea. Geddoh shows Alex some of the customs of his Middle Eastern culture: making a traditional noontime meal, the five daily calls to prayer. In turn Alex teaches his grandfather a bit of American culture, such as playing baseball. Alex may be distraught when the visit ends, but Geddoh promises that they can share the majesty of the evening sky even while they are far apart. “Your sky, your moon, your stars are mine, too, habibi, my dear. And as you look up . . . my thoughts will fly to you.” Farnsworth’s graceful oil illustrations are done in muted pastels, portraying the images in a soft focus. Matze’s lyrical descriptions of Geddoh’s homeland paint a vivid picture of a remote culture; within the poignant tale of a young boy’s deepening relationship with his grandfather is a powerful message of the enduring nature of a love that cannot be diminished by time or space.

5 Books with strong Arab Protagonist by A Crafty Arab

* Nye, Naomi Shihab. Sitti’s Secrets. New York: Four Winds Press, 1994

From School Library Journal –

Kindergarten-Grade 3-When Mona travels from her home in the U.S. to visit her grandmother’s small Palestinian village on the West Bank, she must rely on her father to translate at first, but soon she and Sitti are communicating perfectly. With verve and a childlike sense of wonder, Mona relates some of the sights, sounds, and tastes she is introduced to as well as “the secrets” she learns from spending time in the wise, elderly woman’s company. Upon her return home, Mona writes to the president describing the woman and expressing her concerns about the situation in her homeland. “I vote for peace. My grandmother votes with me.” says Mona. The simple, poetic text is accompanied by exquisitely rendered mixed-medium paintings. They are suffused with the light and colors of the desert, and incorporate subtle and evocative collage touches. A story about connections that serves as a thoughtful, loving affirmation of the bonds that transcend language barriers, time zones, and national borders.

5 Books with strong Arab Protagonist by A Crafty Arab

* Rumford, James. Silent Music. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2008.

From Booklist –

“My name is Ali. I live in Baghdad.” In just a few lines per page, a young Iraqi boy describes his favorite things: soccer, loud “parent-rattling” music, dancing, and, most of all, Arabic calligraphy: “I love to make the ink flow . . . stopping and starting, gliding and sweeping, leaping, dancing to the silent music in my head.” When bombs fall on the city, Ali, inspired by his hero, Yakut, a thirteenth-century calligrapher, calms himself with his pen: “I filled my room with pages of calligraphy. I filled my mind with peace.” Rumford, who has included Arabic calligraphy in previous titles, such as Calabash Cat and His Amazing Journey (2003), fills his multimedia collages with large, looping script that spells out the words and phrases that Ali writes. Many children will have questions about Arabic writing and where the individual letters stop and start, but they’ll connect with Ali’s first-person voice, which echoes the calligraphy’s graceful rhythm and tells a simple, powerful story about a child’s everyday survival and hope in wartime Baghdad. Grades 1-3.

5 Books with strong Arab Protagonist by A Crafty Arab

* Winter, Jeanette. The librarian of Basra: a true story from Iraq. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc, 2005

From Booklist –

Gr. 3-5. On the heels of Winter’s September Roses [BKL Ag 04]^B the author-illustrator isolates another true story of everyday heroism against a tragic backdrop. Books “are more precious than mountains of gold” to Basra librarian Alia Muhammad Baker. When “the beast of war” looms on the horizon, she and willing friends remove more than 30,000 volumes from the library and store them in their homes, preventing the collection’s destruction when a bomb hits the building. As appropriate for her audience, Winter’s bright, folk-art style does much to mute the horrific realities of war. The corresponding abstraction in the text, however, may give many readers pause. While an endnote explains that the “invasion of Iraq reached Basra on April 6, 2003,” the nature of the crisis rocking Baker’s homeland is left vague, and the U.S.’s role in the depicted events is never mentioned. At the same time, certain images–among them, silhouetted figures in robes fleeing from ominous tanks and jets–carry a pointed commentary that will require sensitivity when presenting this to children of deployed parents. Still, the librarian’s quiet bravery serves as a point of entry into a freighted topic, and young readers will be glad to learn that a portion of the book’s sales will go toward helping rebuild Basra’s library.


Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month | Multicultural Kid Blogs

This post is part of the Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Blog Series and Giveaway. Please visit our landing page for the full schedule and to link up any of your posts on sharing Middle Eastern and North African heritage with kids. Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win your own Arabic Alphabet Animal poster!!


Our giveaway runs through the month of August, so enter below for a chance to win! Some prizes have shipping restrictions. If the winner is outside of the shipping area of one of the prizes, that prize will then be included in the next prize package. (See our full giveaway rules).

Grand Prize

Middle Eastern and Northern African Heritage Month Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs
From Tuttle Publishing, The Complete Middle East Cookbook: Traditional recipes with clear instructions for the modern cook
From Medina Publishing, Discovering Islamic Art: A generously illustrated child’s guide to Islamic art, complete with activity sheetsFrom A Crafty Arab, Arabic Animal Alphabet Poster: Beautiful artwork with unique designs to teach Arabic letters

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Olive Tree (US shipping only): A beautiful tale of friendship set in Lebanon

1st Prize

Middle Eastern and Northern African Heritage Month Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

From Tuttle Publishing, An Edible Mosaic: A cookbook of favorite Middle Eastern recipesFrom Wisdom Tales Press, The Compassionate Warrior: Abd el-Kader of Algeria (US shipping only): Fascinating biography of Emir Abdel Kader, heroic 19th century leader and a pioneer in interfaith dialogue

From Wisdom Tales Press, The Green Musician (US shipping only): A magical story of patience and determination, adapted from the original Persian tale

From GeoToys, Geo Puzzle Africa and the Middle East (US contiguous states shipping only): Jumbo sized puzzle for ages 4 and up

2nd Prize

Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month Series and Giveaway | Multicultural Kid Blogs

From Chicago Review Press, Kid’s Guide to Arab American History (US shipping only): Award-winning guide to the diversity of Arab American experience, with fun extension activities and biographies of famous Arab AmericansFrom Wisdom Tales Press, The Knight, the Princess & the Magic Rock (US shipping only): A retelling of a legendary Persian tale of heroism and love.

From Salaam Designs, 4 piece Holiday Cookie Cutter set (US shipping only): boxed set: Boxed set perfect for Ramadan and Eid includes Crescent, Star, Ramadan lantern (Fanoos), & Mosque.

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