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Hakeem's Hiccups and other Books to Read and Share during Ramadan

"What is your remedy for hiccups?".

.

I drink water. Gallon’s of water.


My students had plenty more to share…

  • Holding my breath.

  • My father tickles me.

  • My Mom scares me.

  • I hang upside down….

The solutions came flying in.

.

This was the buildup to a read-aloud of Hakeem’s Hiccups by Sadaf Siddique, illustrated by Babakiki; published by Pratham.



Hakeem is busy at work seeing his patients when he gets the hiccups. Unable to drink water as it is the month of Ramadan, Hakeem Sahib plods through his day at his clinic, with no respite. Hakeem’s patients have some wonderful ideas to help him cure his hiccups and they are invited to join his family for Iftar.


This is a wonderful, fun read that had the children participating, sharing words in Hindi and Tamil, learning about natural remedies, fasting in different cultures and about Ramadan.


I chose this book especially to read aloud during Ramadan, as there we have a few students who are fasting. It was wonderful to have Muslim students chip in to share about their traditions, but more so to have a few non-Muslim children share enthusiastically about all they knew about Ramadan and Eid, while others shared about religious fasting in their own cultures.


While Diwali and Christmas, to name just two festivals, have many a storybook to offer, how may schools/libraries can say that we celebrate ALL festivals?

How many of us even make the effort?

The student demographic may show that the number of those belonging to a minority community may be small, or even absent within a school community, but they are very much part of our diverse society. If we are preparing our students to grow up to be responsible members of that society, we need to think about how we can sensitise and familiarise our students to those members they may rarely get to interact with?

Through stories, of course!!


It is plain to see the rise in Islamophobia over the past few years. While this is a global problem, it is deeply entrenched in India too. I have been telling stories for over 20 years, however I have witnessed this intolerance more and more, in children as young as 6…only over the past 5-6 years. Quite honestly, it scares me. This widespread hate and skepticism targeted at certain communities, must be countered by promoting stories and books that hold the democratic and secular principles of our constitution.


I truly believe that stories are the way. Exposing children to positive stories about all faiths, their dress, their food, their traditions and beliefs, can only work towards developing multicultural understanding, underlining ideas of acceptance, respect and tolerance.


Here are 8 books that would be wonderful to share at anytime in the school year, but especially during Ramadan.


My choices are based on what we can help us learn and understand...customs, traditions and beliefs.

What I love about these stories is that the sentiment, the learnings, the emotions are what we all experience....universally the same.



Ismat’s Eid by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, illustrated by Proiti Roy (Tulika Books)

A wonderful heart-warming story of sharing and caring, centered around Eid.


Shabana and the Baby Goat by Samina Mishra and Roshni Pochont (Tulika Books)

A beautiful relation between two ‘best friends’, centered around a Muslim family.

I include this one as it familiarises the readers with the typical terms, expressions, dress.


Nabiya by Chatura Rao, illustrated by Ruchi Mhasane (Tulika Books)

A sensitively told story about a little girl who is fascinated by words, stories and books and a teacher who recognises this, bringing her a very special gift on Eid.


Eid Stories published by Scholastic

With stories by Paro Anand, Adithi Rao, Samina Mishra, Siddhartha Sarma and others. Stories about the diverse ways in which this festival is celebrated.


Laila’s Lunchbox by Reem Faruqi, illustrated by Lea Lyon (Tilbury House Publishers)

About a child’s excitement at her first time fasting and her apprehensions about whether her classmates will understand. (She finds comfort in the librarian!!)


The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad/S.K.Ali, illustrated by Hatim Ali (Andersen Press)

Two sisters are celebrating the first day of the older wearing a hijab and the strength she finds in her faith and the words of her family as she faces up to bullies who make fun of her.


Muezza and Baby Jaan - Stories from the Quran by Anita Nair, illustrations by Harshad Marathe (Puffin Books)

A djinn in the form of a baby camel and a Prophet’s favourite cat have a chance meeting and develop a close bond as they explore and share stories from the Quran.


The Queen, The Courtesan, The Doctor, The Writer - 50 inspiring stories of Muslims by Sabah Khan, illustrated by Neelima P Aryan (Parcham)

Stories about about Muslim men and women who made significant contributions to Indian society in their own, distinctive ways (from the late 19th century to early 20th century)


“A Senegalese poet said ‘In the end we will conserve only what we love. We love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.’ We must learn about other cultures in order to understand, in order to love, and in order to preserve our common world heritage.”

–Yo Yo Ma, White House Conference on Culture and Diplomacy



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