Tuesday, October 25, 2011

RTL: A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee

  السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Book Title: A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee
Author: Chris Van Dusen
Islamically Appropriate?: No
Genre: Fiction
Book Format: Picture Book
Age Group: 4-8
Book Review: Mr. Magee decides to take his little dog on a camping trip. He tells his dog about the wonderful adventures to be had while camping but their trip goes suddenly array when a near-sighted (and far-sighted) bear smells the marshmallows they cooked over the fire before going to bed. In its attempt to get to the nice smell, the bear accidentally unhitches the camping trailer from the car, sending both rolling down the hill in opposite directions. The trailer (in which Mr. Magee and his dog are sleeping) ends up falling into the water and is prevented from going over the edge of a waterfall by a large rock. The same bear with poor eye sight unintentionally ends up fishing Mr. Magee and his dog out of the water. 

The story is long and it rhymes (the entire story) so this is definitely a story for older children. The illustrations are attractive and the story is funny. The aspects of the story I am unsure about are the dog and a reference to some presidents of the States. For these reasons, I have rated the book as Inappropriate for Muslim children...waallaahu a'lam.

Until the next read insha'Allaah....

Saturday, October 22, 2011

RTL: Forest

  السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Book Title: Forest
Author: Laura Goodwin
Islamically Appropriate?: PD (Parent Decision)
Genre: Fiction
Book Format: Beginning Chapter Book
Age Group: 4-8
Book Review: This is a beginning chapter book for students who are becoming or already are independent readers. The text level supports independent reading at this age and provides enough new, slightly challenging words so that the reader does not become bored and can also feel a sense of advancing in their ability as a reader. 

In this story, a little girl and her mother find a baby fawn in the forest near their farm. They hear the baby fawn call for its mother throughout the day. When nightfall comes and the mother deer has not returned for her fawn, the family decides to go back to the forest to care for the baby fawn overnight so it will no die. The little girl wants to keep the baby fawn as a pet but the father tells the girl that a wild animal is not theirs to keep and that tomorrow they will call a facility that cares for wild animals.

In a few places in the text the sound the animals makes as it calls for its mother is written in as part of the story. As Ibn Taymiyyah said it is not that humans should imitate the sound of animals (still unable to find that reference in English unfortunately), perhaps children can be asked not to read those lines of text or if you own the book, you can use a marker to colour over the words. 

The last chapter is the reason this book has been given the rating of PD (parent decision). The little girl asks if she can stay up to help feed the fawn throughout the night with her parents and they tell her no (the parents intend to take turns getting up throughout the night to bottle feed the fawn). They tell her to go to bed, which she does, but the reader soon learns that the little girl intentionally lays awake in bed waiting until her parents go to sleep and then she sneaks back downstairs to talk with the fawn and ends up falling asleep next to it.

Might this aide in teaching children to disobey their parents when Allaah has said that we are to be good and dutiful to our parents?

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حُسْنًا
And We have enjoined on man to be good and dutiful to his parents...
{Surah Al-Ankaboot (29): 8}

 Until the next read insha'Allaah....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

RTL: The Grea Night Journey

  السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Book Title: The Great Night Journey and Other Stories  
Author: Anita Ganeri
Islamically Appropriate?: No
Genre: Fiction
Book Format: Picture Book
Age Group: 2-8
Book Review: This book has four stories from Islaam that have been written with language that makes the stories accessible to young children. As the title indicates, the story of the Prophet's (sallaallaahu alayhi wa salam) Isra wa mi'raj (night journey) is one of the four stories included. The other stories include: the first revelation the Prophet (sallaallaahu alayhi wa salam) received, the Prophet's Hijrah to al-Madina and the story of Ibrahim (alayhi salam) and Hajr (when he took her to Makkah and left she and Isma'il there). 

There are a few areas where the text and/or pictures make this book questionable: In the story of the revelation of the Quraan to the Prophet (salllaallaahu alayhi wa salam), the author says that Jibril (alayhi salam) was holding a piece of cloth on which was covered in writing and he commanded the Prophet (salllallaahu alayhi wa salam) to read it. Is this authentic? 

Also, in the story of al-Isra wal Mi'raj, the wording the author used when mentioning how Musa (alayhi salam) told the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa salam) to go back to Allaah and request a reduction in the number of daily salawaat, seems not to convey the correct manners that the Prophets have with Allaah. The wording is thus: "Musa told Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wa salam) that fifty prayers was too many prayers for people to say every day." Worded this way (and the subsequent outcome of the story - the prayers being reduced), it gives the appearance that Musa had a better idea or knew better than Allaah (astagfirullaah). Allaahu a'lam...

Additionally, the hadith that the author relied on to tell the story of when the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa salam) and Abu Bakr (radiallaahu anhu) hid in the cave is, to my limited knowledge, weak. If you were to read this book aloud you could change these things but if you allow a child who can read to simply read the book himself/herself then he/she would read these inaccuracies. 

There is also one picture in the story of al-Isra wal-mi'raj that shows a ladder going up into the clouds. The text says that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa salam) ascended to the heavens on البُراق al-buraq but this illustration seems to contradict the text. We do not want children to think that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa salam) climbed a ladder to ascend to the heavens on his night journey. 

Originally, the rating on this book was undecided but after typing this, I believe that it may be safer to rate the book as not Islamically appropriate due to the aforementioned errors. One of our primary goals is to impart the religion to our children correctly and while this book is beautifully illustrated and the written in language that makes it accessible to young children, the errors are of a nature that cannot easily be rectified.

As an aside: this book was authored by a woman whom, it appears, is not Muslim...waallaahu a'lam. She has retained the overall accuracy of each story and has done so in a respectful manner. May Allaah guide her to Islaam (if she is not already Muslim). It appears that she has also done research about Islaam and has respected and adhered to the prohibition of using facial features, in fact there is not a single human being or animal in the entire book alhamdulillaah! The illustrations are beautiful and attractive so that children will enjoy them insha'Allaah. May Allaah guide us to follow His Shari'a and the Sunnah of His Last Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa salam) and produce beautiful, Islamically accurate children's books without the use of facial features on humans and/or animals.

 Until the next read insha'Allaah....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Motion, Magnets and More

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Sharing a nice science resource book for parents.


This book is an introduction to the Physical Sciences for children ages 4-7. The explanations are simple, brief, straightforward and written to allow children to comprehend each lesson with ease insha'Allaah. Some of the illustrations are not Islamically appropriate therefore this book would be a nice resource for teachers and/or parents to use when looking for simple wording to help explain a scientific concept related to motion, magnets, volume, mass, etc. Some of the experiments are also inappropriate as they call for using food in a wasteful manner. If you are looking for a science resource book to help you (lesson planning, easily worded explanation of certain concepts) when teaching science, this book may be quite helpful.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Storytime: أنا ورقة نبات (I am the plant leaf)

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

The book for storytime today is

أنا ورقة نبات

 (I am the plant leaf)

شرح علمي مبسط ومسل للأطفال عن أوراق النبات ومراحلها وأهميتها تحكيه ورقة بلسانها.

This story explains to children the importance of the leaves of plants, what they do for trees, and how their work changes based on the seasons and the cycles they go through. Aside from being read aloud, this book is one that can be recorded and placed in your science centre for children to listen to when you are teaching certain themes (i.e. season, plants, etc.) as the book has taken the scientific explanation and simplified it for children very well masha'Allaah. Arabic Only.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Storytime: Shapes in Transportation

السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

The book for storytime today is

While recommended for children ages 4-8, younger children (ages 2-3) can also enjoy exploring Shapes in Transportation with an adult or independently. This non-fiction book invites children to notice the shapes that are found in transportation;vehicles they most likely see every day but may not realize that the various shapes can be found in many types of transportation. Children are directed to a bridge, where they will find not only triangles, but a trapezoid as well. Their attention is also drawn to trains whose boxcars are rectangle but some, which carry liquids, are cylinders. 

This book can be enjoyed by children who are currently exploring the transportation theme and may be a nice book to use when incorporating cross curricular activities in the classroom (this book supporting the math strand). Some other examples for the transportation theme can be seen here, here (incorporating shapes) and here insha'Allaah. 

There are several other books in the Math all Around Series that I hope to explore soon and I am hoping that, Insha'Allaah, the content of the other books is Islamically appropriate. There other books in the series are:

  1. Numbers On The Street
  2. Graphing in the Desert
  3. Patterns in Nature
  4. Sorting at the Ocean
  5. Addition in the Forest
  6. Measuring at Home
  7. Money at the Store
  8. Multiplication on the Farm 
  9. Division with Toys

There is also Holiday Fractions but this book is not Islamically appropriate (this is evident from the book cover). Check back and insha'Allaah, the other nine books will appear here soon with a note on the content (whether or not it is Islamically appropriate or not).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

RTL: Fly Away Home

  السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Book Title: Fly Away Home
Author: Eve Bunting
Islamically Appropriate?: Yes
Genre: Fiction
Book Format: Picture Book
Age Group: 5-8
Book Review: This is a story that deals with a sensitive topic: homelessness. The author tells the story of a little boy whose mother passed away and somehow (we are not told how in the story), the little boy and his father have ended up homeless. The story is told in the little boy's voice and he tells of how he and his father live in the airport, how they avoid security and how they keep clean, etc. The little boy is almost at the age where he will be starting school and his father has told him that they will find a way to make sure he does not miss this. Toward the end of the story, the little boy sees a little bird that has flown into the airport and become trapped. The little boy watches the bird intently as it tries to escape and...I'll let you read for yourself insha'Allaah *smile*. This story may be one that can be read aloud when teaching empathy or to support a unit on sadaqa, zakat, the sahaba, helping others, or compassion. It touches on a delicate subject but does so very well. Grade 3 teachers/parents may find this lesson plan, that uses this book, helpful...waallaahu a'lam.

 Until the next read insha'Allaah....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

RTL: All By Myself!

  السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Book Title: All By Myself!
Author: Aliki
Islamically Appropriate?: No
Genre: Fiction
Book Format: Picture Book
Age Group: 2-5
Book Review: Follows a boy through his day from waking to sleep as he delights in all of the things he is able to do independently. The story opens with the boy wearing no clothing (astaghfirullaah), he also plays a musical instrument as a hobby, has a dog, sings and dances using musical instruments with his classmates, etc. Many concepts which contradict Islaamic legislation.

Until the next read insha'Allaah....