Don’t forget to say Bismillah! (Book Review)

Today, I take a look at an interactive book Don’t forget to say Bismillah! by Farzana Rahman. It’s a book that demonstrates how basic dua is incorporated into the daily life of a Muslim family using a combination of text and sound. I don’t think I’ve come across any Islamic children’s book like this to date. I’m excited about this book because not only is it an engaging story that seamlessly incorporates aspects of Muslim manners, but it is, from the illustrations to the design, a product that is professionally produced.

It’s Safiyya’s first day at nursery today,” says Mum.

“And I have a spelling test today,” says Sara.

“And I have a big football match today,” says Ali

“Everything will go well, Insha’Allah,” reassures Mum, “but don’t forget to say Bismillah before beginning anything you do.”

“I’m done, Al-Hamdulillah,” says Ali. “Your pancakes are the best Mum!”

Jazakallahu Khairan,” says Mum.

Don’t forget to say Bismillah! has a battery operated panel located on the side that allows the reader to press a button to listen to the sound of keywords that appear in the story (such as the coloured words in the excerpt you see above). The slider at the top of the sound panel makes it easy for the reader to move from the Arabic pronunciation of a word to its meaning in English and vice versa. This provides English-speaking children with the opportunity to know the meaning of the Arabic phrases they say, something which is not always the case as the Arabic is learnt and repeated by custom.

The story is simple; a look at a day in the life of a Muslim family from morning as they set off to work and school to the evening as they sit together for dinner. The youngest member of the family, Safiyya, is off to her first day of nursery. Just as she is nervous about it, Mom is nervous about returning to workplace after being away for a long time. Through the entire book Islamic duas are said by members of the household as they eat, talk of plans for the day, are at school or the park.

Young children will delight in seeing Safiyya attempt to say the duas. She wants to say the duas just as her big brother and sister do. So Safiyya says “Hum Lala” when she hears her brother Ali say “Al-Hamdulillah” after eating breakfast or “Yah-Lala” when her mother and sister respond to Ali’s “Al-Hamdulillah” when he sneezes.

I really enjoyed the illustrations in this book as they were realistic. The details make the characters seem like they’re from a Muslim family you know. The book is larger than the average book, but its size is suitable for a child to hold in his lap or place on the table or on the ground in front of him. The sturdy covers protect the glossy pages. Text on the page is clearly printed in a font that is easy to read and does not crowd the page.

A glossary at the back of the book provides the meaning of the basic dua and briefly explains when they are used. A simple match game ends the book as readers are invited to match the dua to the context which it should be said. This activity is good for slightly older readers.

Don’t forget to say Bismillah! is a book that a child three years to six years can read with an adult or on his/her own. It provides an entertaining way of learning duas for the first-time learner or of reinforcing those duas that a child may already be learning at home or at school. I think children heading off to school for the first time would enjoy reading this book as well.  

Title: Don’t forget to say Bismillah!

Author: Farzana Rahman

Publisher: Desi Doll Company

ISBN: 9780956586001

Reading Level: 3 – 7 years

Specifications: Interactive Sound book

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6 thoughts on “Don’t forget to say Bismillah! (Book Review)

  1. it sounds like a really good story that we can all learn from, young and old. I can see from your review that you really found it engaging, more so than usual books of texts and pictures. The illustrations and sound make it a much more interactive and enjoyable experience … bringing the story alive? Innovation is key to bringing out useful forms of teaching books for children and this, the first of its kind in the Islamic sense, sounds like it will be a success. Great review.

    • Thank you for your lovely comment Jules.

      There are Islamic books that teach children good Islamic behaviours but this one is unique in that it has the sound as well as a good story. Children love to play and learning through play is sometimes the best way.

      Hope you stop by the blog again soon.

    • Wa’ alaykum assalam

      Glad you like the book as much as I did. To answer your question, the children’s father appears toward the end of the book. He returns home for work just in time to join the family for dinner with a surprise gift for someone! *smile*

      I’m just adding a link to a brief video that demonstrates how the sound panel works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y46baqYisho

  2. As-salaamu alaikum. I saw this book in last year’s Global Peace & Unity event in London. Nice illustrations and story – however, the product would benefit greatly as a board book, as younger children can easily tear the pages. The du’as are basic and simple for very young children (under 3s) to learn, and I know this as a father. My daughter has been saying this dua’s since just over a year old, mashaAllah, and I didn’t buy the product simply because she will end up tearing the pages. Great idea though, inshaAllah there will be a board book version available.

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