The Gift of Ramadan

Author(s): Rabiah York Lumbard

Illustrator(s): Laura K Horton

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Year: 2019

Topics: Ramadan

Description: 

Sophia wants to fast for Ramadan this year. Her grandma tells her that fasting helps make a person sparkly―and Sophia loves sparkles. But when her attempt at fasting fails, Sophia must find another way to participate. This lovely multigenerational family story explores the many ways to take part in the Ramadan holiday.

Brief Synopsis: 

Sophia wants to have a sparkly heart like the person who fasts in Ramadan! The next day she tries her best to fast, but couldn’t resist the smell of cookies. Her grandma praises her for trying her best and encourages her to try again the next day. She also suggests other ways she could help out during the day. She thinks of reading the Quran like her mom or give in charity like her dad, but those options weren’t possible either. In the end she decides to help make food – sparkly pizzas for iftar. The pizzas don’t turn out exactly the way she wanted them to, but with a little sharing the dinner is perfect. Sophia learnt a lot that day and ended with a ‘wonderfully full heart’.

Why I like it: 

  • We all love this book and it has become one of our favorite Ramadan books
  • The illustrations and the cover is gorgeous!
  • The little details in the story are so true and realistic for a child fasting for the first time
  • I like how something like “having a sparkly heart” encouraged the character to try to fast. I wouldn’t have thought much about it until my daughter had the same reaction!!
  • The language is very age appropriate and it’s just well written.
  • The illustrations show a mixed racial family with a diversity of skin colors
  • I like how relatable it is for Sophia to be excited, yet sleepy during suhoor and then fall asleep during fajr.
  • When her little brother was bothering her with a cookie, she tried her best and didn’t yell at him. A small detail but emphasizes how kids can participate in Ramadan even if they don’t fast.
  • When Sophia had broken her fast, I loved how the grandmother didn’t ‘shame’ her in any way and instead praised and comforted her for trying her best. And more importantly encourages her to keep trying and that Sophia has a whole month to try with no pressure.
  • Sophia was determined to get a sparkly heart and looks at other ways that make Ramadan special. (For example her mom reads Quran, and her dad gives to charity)
  • In the end Sophia helps her grandmother make pizzas for iftar. Again pizza is very relatable for kids and helping with iftar is a good deed even the littlest ones can do!
  • I love all the little details the author added.
  • Near the end of the story Sophia comes with a great idea to cut the pizzas into smaller slices and helps set the table. I also liked how the author had the family open the fast with a traditional date, and then mixed it having pizza, soup and salad! (something you would totally find in our household!)
  • I also love the fact that Sophia didn’t take the last piece of pizza because ‘she didn’t need to’. Her heart was wonderfully full. It brings the story full circle.
  • The author’s note at the end has just the right amount of information telling readers the basics of Ramadan without it being overwhelming.

Things that could be improved: 

Additional Activities: 

  • Make a sparkly heart card/craft
  • Make pizza with your child for iftar
  • Have your child make a craft with ways they can get a sparkly heart during ramadan
  • Have your child help decorate the house for Ramadan 

Pinterest Board: click here

Overall: 

We absolutely love this book and have read it quite a bit. It got my 4 year excited about sparkles and fasting during ramadan! Sophia is very relatable and I can see all kids going through the same struggle when they first try to fast. The moral of the story is amazing – to try your best to fast and if you don’t succeed look for other things you can do to help others during ramadan. I just love how the story emphasizes that there’s more to Ramadan than fasting (even though it’s a huge part) and children who don’t fast can still participate in the joy of Ramadan. I like how the author briefly explains that “people who fast have sparkly hearts” and that’s why we fast. Then the rest of the story focuses on Sophia’s day and things we do during ramadan. It’s an excellent story to share with friends, neighbours, co-workers, teachers and even donate to the library and schools. It’s the story I will be recommending this year to teachers for sharing with their class!

Sophia loves sparkles! I love sparkles! This whole book is so sparkly! I LOVE this book!

– 4 yr old

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