Three Board Books that will Delight Young Ones! (Book Review)

Recently I reviewed a wonderful book by the company Smart Ark for children ages 4-8 that deals with recycling and our responsibility as Muslims to implement the three R’s. Today I want to take a look at three other books that I received from this company.     

The First Steps series comprises so far Made by Allah: Alphabet Book, Thank you Allah: Counting Book and Prayer Times: Book of Colours. These board books are perfect for introducing basic concepts such as the alphabet letters, colours and numbers as well as for introducing elements of Islam to very young children.     

The books are all made of sturdy recycled board so that they can handle little hands pulling and tugging (and maybe even chewing) them. The illustrations are simple, clear and vibrant. Two of them are written in simple rhyme. Here is a brief look at the books:  
Made by Allah Alphabet Book by Fehmida Ibrahim Shah (Smart Ark)

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“A is for apple, a healthy treat, Made by Allah, to enjoy and eat.  


B is for boat, that sails on the sea, Which Allah protect, and brings home safely.”     

Made by Allah: Alphabet Book uses each letter of the English alphabet to show children the variety of things Allah has given them; from food, toys, animals and even the day and night. Each letter appears on a page with text in simple rhyme and  an illustration.     


“One golden sun, rising as I say, Thank you Allah, for a beautiful day.     

Two pieces of toast, with strawberry jam, Thank you Allah, how grateful I am.”     

Thank you Allah: Counting Book will help young children learn to count from 1 to 10 while appreciating the many beautiful things Allah has given them. Again the use of simple rhyme and illustrations will capture the attention of young readers and their parents.     

“A Muslim prays five times a day. When we pray we face Mecca in Saudi Arabia….     


When we pray to Allah, we than Him for all the blessings He ahs given us….     

The Fajr prayer starts just before dawn and ends just before sunrise.     

Can you find these colours in the Fajr time picture?     

Blue Pink Beige”     

In Prayer Times: Book of Colours young children are given a very brief (and appropriate for their age) introduction to salah (or prayer) as they attempt to identify the colours in the pictures. The times and names of the five daily prayers are given in this short board book. As they read the book, children are asked to find a particular colour in the picture. In most cases the colours correspond with the colours you would find for that particular time of day (bright colours for the day and darker ones for evening and night). This book does not only introduces the young reader to the primary colours (red, blue, yellow) but to some secondary colours (green, orange, purple) and a wider range too (beige, peach, maroon).   

I think parents and teachers would be delighted to have these board books in their homes and classrooms (preschools) as the books provide young children(ages 2-4) with a wonderful introduction to the English alphabet and numbers and salah. To help young children learn Arabic numbers and alphabet take a look at the posters designed by the company. For more information on these books and other products produced by Smart Ark check out the website

Zaynab and Zakariya Learn to Recycle (Book Review)

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“Zakariya was having a clear out. He had some old toys that he did not with anymore. He also had lots of old used paper that he was going to take outside and throw in the bin.

“Stop!” said Zaynab. “You can’t throw that away.”

“Why ever not it’s only bits of paper?” said Zakariya.”


Zakariya is a young boy cleaning up his room. He is about to throw away a pile of paper and other things when his sister tells him that he can recycle them instead. Zakariya, like all little children, is curious and ask questions. He wants to find out what recycling means. His sister Zaynab proceeds to explain this to him.

As the story progresses we witness the ease by which we can all attempt to live a life that incorporates the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle). Not only do Zaynab and Zakariya want to recycle,  they make a compost and while shopping, learn how to identify eco-friendly products. This book is not only a wonderful way to introduce to the concept of recycling but of appreciating the all the resources Allah has given humans and how we must try our best to use them responsibly.  

Zaynab and Zakariya Learn to Recycle is the first book in a series planned by Smart Ark. This is the first publisher I have seen who has addressed an environmental issue in a book for young children. Muslim children living in our world today need to read books like this one because of two reasons. First, as Muslims we need to be responsible about how we treat our environment. Second, Muslim children need to see children like themselves taking care of the earth. And Smart Ark ensures that it sets an example by making their books (and other products, see here and here) out of recycled materials (see their environmental policy for some of the other environmentally friendly things this company does.).

Zaynab and Zakariya Learn to Recycle is a great resource for the classroom as teachers will find that it ties in with the curriculum. Parents also, will find the natural conversation that takes place between brother and sister easily engages young readers thereby serving to educate them about issues of the environment that all Muslims need to know.

Title: Zaynab and Zakariya Learn to Recycle

Author: Fehmida Ibrahim Shah

Publisher: Smart Ark

ISBN:  978095629979

Subject: recycling, environment

Reading Level: 4-5 years (Read Aloud), 6-8 years (Read on Own)