The Proudest Blue (Ibtihaj Muhammad, with S. K. Ali)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Proudest Blue, written by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S. K. Ali, and illustrated by Hatem Aly, a beautiful tale of sisterhood and hijabi pride.

Sisters Asiyah and Faizah (inspired by Muhammad’s own sisters) are at the shop to pick out Asiyah’s “first day” hijab. Immediately, the older sister is drawn to a bright, rich blue, one that reminds younger Faizah of the ocean on a clear day, when it meets the sky and seems endless. As the two walk to school the next morning, they both beam with pride: Asiyah donning her new hijab and Faizah in awe of how regal her sister looks (“I’m walking with a princess”). Yet when the two get to school, the reactions of the other children are mixed: Asiyah’s friends love her new look, but some – such as a young classmate of Faizah’s – are puzzled by it. Worse, several children bully and even threaten Asiyah. Faizah watches as her older sister refuses to acknowledge such ignorance and, remembering lessons their mother taught them to deal with bullies, is filled with pride for her sister all over again. She draws a picture for their mother of two princesses in hijab, and decides on the walk home that when her “first day” comes, she knows exactly what color hijab to pick: the proudest shade of blue.

Stunning. There has been some wonderful kidlit about hijab in the last few years, and this deeply personal and affirming title is a fantastic addition to the sub-genre. Multiple themes are explored, from the deep bonds of sisterhood, the difficulties of facing ostracism and bullying, hijabi and Muslim culture, and how all these can and do weave together. Several passages give bullied children, hijabi or otherwise, a good roadmap for dealing with the hurtful words of others, and the beautiful descriptions and interpretations of the blue headscarf inspire pride for young Muslim readers. The art is fittingly gorgeous, in particular the spreads in which Asiyah’s blue scarf becomes a peaceful sky or a powerful sea. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both loved it. A touching story for readers of all faiths, and a powerful love letter to young hijabi girls. Baby Bookworm approved!

Mommy’s Khimar (Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Mommy’s Khimar, written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Ebony Glenn, a lovely story of family and love.

A little girl watches her mother closely as the woman affixes her khimar – a flowing scarf that covers her head and hair – with fascination. Her mommy has a whole closet of khimars in seemingly every color and pattern in the rainbow – including the girl’s favorite color, yellow. The girl tries on the too-large scarf and revels in the way it makes her feel: like a queen, a shining star, a nurturing mama bird, and a mighty superhero. Her mother helps her put it on properly, and the girl is comforted by the familiar scent of her mother’s beauty products on the garment. At mosque, her Arabic teacher calls it a “hijab”, and many of the other ladies, also in khimars, compliment her look. When her Christian grandmother stops by to visit after Sunday service, she sweeps the girl up in a bright hug and proclaims “Sweet Jesus!”. At the end of the day, her mother helps her remove the headpiece, and the girl lays down to bed, dreaming of a cozy nest of yellow, and her mother’s warm embrace.

Lovely. As much a celebration of hijabi pride, this tender story is about the connection between a mother and daughter that is relatable across cultures; what little girl didn’t try on her mommy’s coat or shoes or necklaces and feel a just a bit closer to her? But it is a celebration of the khimar as well, and dispels the myth that these headscarfs are symbols of oppression rather than culture or faith; wearing the khimar helps the girl feel empowered, beautiful, and free, rather than the opposite. With the addition of the beautiful, colorful illustrations, these elements fold together beautifully to tell a story that is a gift of representation for Muslim families and a touching story of mother and daughter for readers of any faith. The length was great, JJ loved it, and this one is emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!

Under My Hijab (Hena Khan)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Under My Hijab, written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel, an awesome look at hijab and the women who wear it.

A young girl considers the women in her life who wear hijab – her grandmother, for instance, carefully folds her hijab to keep it out of the way while she works at a baker; at home, she wears her graying hair in a neat bun while they bake together. The girl loves the way her mother’s cheerful pink hijab contrasts her white doctor coat; at home, her long hair is braided while tending her garden. For each hijabi, the girl notes the various ways they style it to reflect their personalities – towering high with a homemade pin for her artist aunt, practical under a sun hat for her camp counselor, trendy and fashionable for her teen sister. She thinks on how she loves and admires each woman, and when she is old enough, she’ll choose to wear hijab as well – inspired by them, and as a reflection of the unique person she is under her hijab.

Awesome! A wonderful tale of hijabi pride for both Muslim and non-Muslim readers. The rhyming texts explores how the women underneath hijab are complex individual with different personalities, passions, and styles. For young Muslim readers, it’s a beautiful bit of representation and girl power; for non-Muslims, it can help to dispel many of the misconceptions about hijab (an afterward by the author further explores the details of hijab, along with when and why women choose to wear it). Jaleel’s illustrations are perfect, depicting women of all skintones and body types as warm, comforting presences, while capturing each woman’s personality and flair. The length is great, JJ loved it, and we absolutely recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

Night Of The Moon (Hena Khan)


Hello friends, and Ramadan Mubarak! Today marks the first day of the month of Ramadan, and since we wanted to learn more about this Muslim holy month, our book today was Night Of The Moon, written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Julie Paschkis. This story teaches the reader about Ramadan as seen through the eyes of a young girl named Yasmeen.

Yasmeen is seven years old, Pakistani-American, and Muslim. One night, her mother shows her the bare sliver of the new moon and explains that this begins Ramadan, a holy month of fasting and celebration for people of Islamic faith. As the new moon waxes and wanes, Yasmeen and her family attend celebrations with friends and relatives and services at their mosque. They practice kindness and community, and Yasmeen’s parents fast during the day to reflect on their blessings. Then, after the end of the month, the family and their community celebrate Eid, a festival filled with gifts, treats, and a brand new moon.

This was a fantastic book to introduce Ramadan and it’s customs to those just learning about it. Yasmeen and her family provide a wonderful narrative through the eyes of a child, relating the various celebrations, traditions, and beliefs in a concise and simple way. I especially loved how the passage of time was marked by the phases of the moon. The illustrations, heavily inspired by traditional Islamic art, are rich with color and design, and create a ton of visual interest for little readers. The length was fine, and JJ really liked this one, especially the art. This is a fantastic story about Ramadan, perfect for Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike to learn about and celebrate. Baby Bookworm approved!

Golden Domes And Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book Of Colors (Hena Khan)


Hello, friends! Today’s book is Golden Domes And Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book Of Colors, written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, a gorgeous book that teaches children about the colors that fill Islam’s objects and traditions.

A young Muslim girl guides the reader through the bright, vibrant colors that she sees as she and her family practice their faith. Red is the color of the prayer rug she and her father kneel upon to pray, facing Mecca. Blue is the color of her mother’s hijab, the head covering she wears. Green is the color of her Quran, the holy book her grandmother reads to her, teaching her Allah’s lessons. Beautiful colors are present wherever her faith is reflected, and she loves her colorful Muslim world.

This was a very informative and interesting book! It acts as both a primer for basic colors, which were very easily identifiable for a baby bookworm like JJ, and introduces many elements and traditions surrounding Islam in a way that is approachable and easily identifiable for young readers of all levels of familiarity with the faith. Using the language of color, the purpose and appearance of mosques, kufis, and henna are all introduced, offering a unique window into the world of Islam for those unfamiliar, and giving young Muslim children an opportunity to identify with their culture and faith as they learn their colors. The art is, obviously, radiant and vivid, making each color the page’s theme and easy to spot for little ones. The length is just perfect, and JJ really enjoyed this. This is a fantastic way to introduce children to color through the world of Islam, or vice versa, and we liked it a lot. Baby Bookworm approved!