Contest for young writers/poets and new books: An Ummah Reads roundup

For those readers living in the United Kingdom: The Young Muslim Writer Award 2011 is now accepting entries of short stories and poetry from children and teenagers. This competition is open to residents of the U.K. only between the ages of 5 and 16.

More details on the site:

New Books to Look Out For

I came across these lovely board books while browsing online recently. They are board books that introduce basic concepts (numbers, shapes and colour) using one central theme: the masjid. These books look great for toddlers and preschool age children at home or school. Check out the At the Masjid Learning Series from Compass Books

Another set of books I happened to see online as well is the STAIRS series by young author Nur Kose. These are books that introduce the adventures of a young Muslim girl as she interacts with her friends and siblings. Also have a look at stories and activities for and by children on the author’s website

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)

photo source:


“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

The Jolly Jamaat (Book Review)

The Jolly Jamaat Book CoverOne Italian Imam, is going to the park, it’s a lovely day, he’s off to pray to lead the Eid salaat.
Two joyous Jamaicans step out and follow on, so full of cheer they make takbir as they both walk along.
Three bright Brazilians bound out of number three, the little one stops to tie his shoe and then shouts, “wait for me!”

The residents of Ummah Street are off to Eid salaah at the local park.  They are excited as they get ready to celebrate the end of the month of fasting, Ramadan. They come from various backgrounds: an Italian, two Jamaicans, a few Brazilians, some Hungarians and others. But by the time they all get there they discover that there is a problem. Could the park be too small for all the Muslims?

The Jolly Jamaat is a picture book that introduces counting using rhyme and bright, colourful illustrations. It will appeal to young children ages 2 to 4. The author has attempted to produce a rhyming prose and it works well. The illustrator wonderfully captures the excitement of the people when they emerge from their homes with smiles on their faces and eagerness in their step as they head to the park for the open air prayer (a practice of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)). In terms of layout, the font type and the size of the illustrations tend to crowd the page at times making it somewhat difficult to read the text.

Talking Points: This book presents an opportunity to discuss the multi ethnic nature of the Muslims who live around the world.  My son and I used a world map to locate the countries mentioned in the book. My son enjoyed seeing the various families dressed in clothing representing their native country. We talked about the fact that no matter what we look like or where we come from, we are all Muslims; while we might appear to be different we are in fact very similar and united by our belief in Allah. The unexpected ending of the book delighted my child and we talked about what the Muslims could do if the park was too small.
Title: The Jolly Jamaat

Author: Suzanne Stone

Illustrator: Marianne Hunter

Publisher: The Seerah Foundation

Date: 2008

ISBN: 9780907052517