The Green Dinosaur Umbrella: A Hajj Story

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Author: Amina Banawan

Illustrator: Rania Hasan

Publisher: Ruqaya’s Bookshelf

Year: 2020

Topics: Hajj, Kindness

Pinterest Board: click here

Description:

In this beautifully illustrated, whimsical story, a green dinosaur umbrella travels to Makkah and exchanges hands, helping pilgrims along their journey of Hajj.

Brief Synopsis:

Ibhrahim (teenage boy) buys an umbrella to take to hajj [does Tawaf and drinks Zamzam]. Then the umbrella gets handed to an old man [takes it to Mina/prays at Arafah], the group leader [travels to Jabal Ar- Rahma, picks up pebbles at Muzdalifah, stays the night at Muzdalifah], to a woman with a little baby [throws pebbles at Jamarat, return to Mina], to a little girl as an Eid gift, [does Sa’ee in Masjid Al Haram], and back to Ibrahim [Farewell Tawaf].

Why I like it:

  • It’s an entertaining story and not a “how to” about Hajj so it brings a unique perspective to your Hajj basket/unit.
  • The old man made dua for himself, his family, and the little boy who gifted him the umbrella. One of the best things you can do for someone who helps you.
  • Breaking up an argument during Hajj – such a subtle addition was really appreciated because unfortunately it does happen! And makes it a great talking point with your kids
  • After Hajj, it shows the women snip a little bit of their hair at the tent, which was refreshing to see. (but also includes that Ibrahim had completely shaved his hair)
  • Lots of diversity in character – Muslims come in all shapes and forms, and Hajj is when you can really witness that
  • The Ayat 49:13 from the Quran is included
  • There’s a map for a focus on the Hajj to make sure your kids also understand the Hajj rites.
  • The author’s introduction at the back – “searching for missing toys and socks under her two children’s beds” LOL. THAT is so relatable and deserves a shout out for being so real.

Things that could be improved:

On the last page it says “peoples”…

Activities:

  • Make an umbrella craft (check out the Pinterest board)
  • Sit down with your kids and help them make dua for people who have helped them – family, friends, teachers, etc and then also focus on the little things – like maybe someone at the grocery story helped them find something or a stranger opened the door at a restaurant?
  • Make a list with your children about HOW they can be kind to others – moving a rock from the path, opening doors for someone carrying groceries, holding the elevator for someone coming that way, being quite in the library so others can read, etc
  • Talk about the part in the story where the group leader breaks up an argument. [Hajj is hard, but we must remember to remain courteous and kind with other. We shouldn’t argue and fight normally but especially not on hajj. And if bring peace between two people, how amazing is that.]
  • Use the map at the end of the book to talk about the “how to” of Hajj. Talk about who had the umbrella where and what they were doing while they had it
  • You could give out cold bottles of water on a hot day to people walking by and appreciate the group leaders efforts and how kind it was of him to give out drinks
  • Talk about the diversity of people shown in the book
  • Look up the Ayat in the Quran and talk to your kids about it
  • And then your child can draw their own picture of diverse people on Hajj

Overall:

It’s a story about kindness and spreading kindness, and teaches kids to think of others. “He/She needs it more than I do” is such a beautiful thought to talk to your kids about. And it just happens to include the “backdrop” of Hajj which is an added bonus really. Each character with the umbrella does one of the rites of Hajj and can be talked about in more detail. Its not a “how to” instructional book on Hajj but a FUN (yet “educational”) story that would make a great addition to every Hajj Basket/Unit.

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