Rukhsana Khan’s award-winning novel Wanting Mor (Groundwood Books, 2009) was one of the books on Corinne’s YA Top 10 posted last week (and it would be on mine too!). One of the themes that runs through the book is the main character Jameela’s faith, and Rukhsana evokes great depth of feeling and understanding about Jameela’s culture growing up in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Her other YA novel Dahling, If You Luv Me, Would You Please, Please Smile (Stoddart Kids, 1999) focuses on a Muslim Canadian teen Zainab’s journey towards self-acceptance in the face of peer pressure. Rukhsana has also written several acclaimed picture books, including Big Red Lollipop (illustrated by Sophie Blackall; Viking Children’s Books, 2010) and The Roses in My Carpets (illustrated by Ronald Himler).
You can find out more about Rukhsana’s books on her website and keep up-to-date with her news on her Khanversations blog; and do also read our interview with her.
Top 10 YA/Crossover Books with a Religious Theme, by Rukhsana Khan
1. The Autobiography of Malcolm X — This book absolutely moved me as a teen! It’s about a man who succumbs to a sort of personality cult (Nation of Islam)—but emerges as a truly noble man! I wanted to be like Malcolm X!
2. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson — A real classic! Absolutely adored this book! It’s full of quotations from the Bible and there’s a really mean and sanctimonious grandmother!
3. A Single Light by Maia Wojcieschowska — Read this as a girl and found it haunting!
4. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen — Fanny Price is no Elizabeth Bennet! I loved that Edward chooses Fanny for her faith and good moral character.
5. Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare — A story about tolerance but also about differences in faith. I’d never heard of the Quaker religion before this!
6. Does My Head Look Big in This? Randa Abdel Fattah — The first book I ever read that made you root for the girl to keep wearing her hijab.
7. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte — Read this book as a kid and it actually confirmed my belief in Islam—Mr. Rochester and Jane would have had no problem marrying if they were Muslim!
8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain — Loved how Mark Twain explored the ways in which the status quo—slave ownership—was justified by the establishment. And I wrestled alongside Huck as he struggled to do the *right* thing!
9. The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson — A lyrical beautiful book about a woman who falls in love with Egypt and the Muslim faith.
10. The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham — I only recently read this book and realized how way ahead of its time it was! It’s about a guy who goes and finds himself, and particularly about him exploring his faith.
I know a lot of the books aren’t exactly kids’ books. I couldn’t help it. I do really like all these books! Although Randa Abdel Fattah’s book annoys me a little because it’s about a girl you’re rooting for, who has the courage to wear hijab, and yet she, as an author, no longer wears hijab; and there’s a spot in that book when they go to the cinema during Ramadan while they’re fasting and there’s no mention of prayer!!! *grrr*
This week is Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating our freedom to read whatever we like. It’s not that we want to celebrate the banning of books, of course. What we celebrate is the power of books to convey ideas, even ideas that are shocking, controversial or unpopular.
Sponsored by the American Library Association and many others, Banned Books Week is an important way to shine a light on these books. Many of the books highlighted during Banned Books Week were only the target of attempted bans; a powerful reminder of the importance of staying vigilant about protecting our First Amendment right to read any books we like.
At First Book, we like to walk the walk, so we make a special effort to ensure that the schools and programs in our network have access to high-quality books – including many that have been banned, or the target of attempted bannings.
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain.
- The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank.
- Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, by Benjamin Franklin
- The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
- Fighting Ground, by Avi
- The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
- Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
- Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
- Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
Check out these books (and more) on the First Book Marketplace, and make sure the kids you serve have the chance to read them all, and make up their own minds.
Summer Stock: Promoting Literacy in the Community
The Texas Woman’s University drama department is partnering with a local Girl Scout troop to promote literacy and the art of theater. This summer program engages kids through activities which are designed around beloved children’s book classics.
10 Weeks of Fun from RIF
Check out this great reading calendar from Reading Is Fundamental which includes fun learning activities for families to enjoy throughout the summer. This calendar incorporates creative learning ideas with everyday summer fun.
Book Reviews Delivered to Your iPhone
Kids Book Review is a new application for the iPhone which allows users to view book reviews on the go, helping shoppers make informed decisions about their book purchases. This also gives users the ability to post books to their Twitter or Facebook accounts to share reviews with friends.
125th Anniversary of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”
Elmira, the city where Mark Twain penned his famous work, is celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the release of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Excerpts from the book will be read aloud and the first 125 kids will receive a free copy of the book.
How Learning to Read Changes Your Brain
This article details findings of an ancient ability to recognize both an object and its mirror image as identical and how this affects learning to read. Confusing similar letters, an error once assumed to indicate dyslexia, turns out to be a common mistake of learning.