We still need more books with Muslim characters. Hopefully. publishers will realize that readers like us want to see more diversity and continue to offer more books with diverse characters.
The books on this list celebrate the Muslim faith and cultures within the Islamic faith community, such as Egyptian, Pakistani, and Somali cultures.
Read these picture and chapter books with your kids and students; they’re really good, well-written stories that you’re going to love.
The Proudest Blue A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad with S.K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly
Salat In Secret by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Hatem Aly
Two of my favorite kidlit creators teamed up for this important story about bravery, faith, and family. After his dad gives him a prayer rug of his own, a Muslim boy named Muhammad searches for a place to pray at school but he’s nervous to ask his teacher and he hides his prayers from his classmates. After school, he sees his dad praying outside his ice cream truck with police standing over him. Muhammad bravely leaves the truck to join his father. And even though they’re both trembling a little bit, they finish their prayers and the police leave. The next day, Muhammad feels the courage to approach his teacher and ask for a place where he can pray.
Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrations by Ebony Glenn
The little girl feels loved, safe, brave, and imaginative when she plays dress-up with her mommy’s colorful khimars which are headscarves. Her playful joy with the scarves celebrates her family’s culture and beliefs.
Under My Hijab by Hena Khan, illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel
The significant women in this girl’s life wear hijabs and also, sometimes don’t. They inspire her with all that they do and who they are. It’s an important slice-of-life story featuring strong, inspiring Muslim women.
Mama Shamsi at the Bazaar by Mojdeh Hassani and Samira Iravani, illustrated by Maya Fidawi
A little girl worries about getting lost at the bazaar and asks her Mama Shamsi if she can hide under her big black chador. Each time, Mama Shamsi tells the girl what creature her chador would look like if the girl hid underneath. For example, if the girl climbed on Mama Shamsi’s back, it would look like she was a turtle! If the girl were in the front, Mama Shamsi would look like a kangaroo. Eventually, the girl understands that it might be too silly to hide under the chador. She bravely holds hands with Mama Shamsi as they walk through the market.
Riding a Donkey Backwards Wise and Foolish Tales of Mulla Nasruddin retold by Sean Taylor and the Khayaal Theatre, illustrated by Shirin Adl
Mulla Nasruddin stars in hilarious short stories that will appeal to children of all cultures, although he’s well-known already in many different Muslim countries. He’s goofy, witty, endearing, tricky, and wise…you can’t help but adore him. The collage illustrations capture the emotion (and goofiness) of Mulla with a delightful humor of their own.
Like the Moon Loves the Sky by Hena Khan, illustrated by Saffa Khan
Transcendent illustrations of inky blues, reds, and oranges capture the mood of this parental prayer for a child…Each page starts with the word Inshallah which means “if God wills” in Arabic. Inshallah that the child shall feel safe, be kind, seek knowledge, and stand strong. “Inshallah you count all your blessings and graces.” Gentle and filled with loving wishes, this is a memorable, soothing book.
Halal Hot Dogs by Susannah Azia, illustrated by Parwinder Singh
It’s Musa’s turn to pick the food after the Jummah Prayer at the masjid — and he picks halal hot dogs. But first, he shares which food treats his other family members picked for their turns, then he has to wait until after masjid. He’s a bit wiggly and hungry but finally, it’s time. Musa waits in a long line, eager to share with his family. But, when he arrives home, the bag doesn’t have the sauce or hotdogs inside. Now, what will he do? Find another halal hot dog stand, of course!
The Masjid Kamal Loves written by Ashley Franklin, and illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel
Written like “The House that Jack Built,” see how happy Kamal feels when he’s at the masjid. From his shoes to the friends, the rug, the imam, and prayers, he loves going to the masjid. I also love the illustrator’s use of vibrant blues.
Peg & Cat The Eid al-Adha Adventure by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson
Peg and Cat visit their friends Yasmina and Amir to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Besides singing and dancing, they celebrate by giving to others.
Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes by Hena Khan, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
Lavish, richly colored illustrations fill this beautiful book of shapes celebrating Muslim culture. “Hexagon is a tile, / bold and bright, / painted with an ayah / I love to recite.” Learn about geometric shapes like circles, squares, and octagons from daily life and architecture.
The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story by Aya Khalil, illustrated by Aaait Semirdzhyan
A wonderful story that shows the value of being bilingual and sharing your language and culture with others! Kanzi’s family moves to a new school. Luckily, her new teacher values Kanzi’s culture and language. She helps Kanzi share her Egyptian culture and Arabic language with her classmates which builds bridges and friendships with her new classmates.
One Green Apple by Eve Bunting
Farah struggles with living in new in a country where she doesn’t understand the language or culture. But a field trip to an apple orchard helps her find common ground with her new classmates.
I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien
Back home, Jin and Fatimah knew their languages and were included in their classes. Being new, they now feel lonely and confused. This book gently shows how it feels to be new and the process of making friends from the perspective of children from different cultures and countries.
The Kindest Red A Story of Hijab and Friendship by Ibtihal Muhammad and S.K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly
Faizah gets to wear the red dress passed on by her mom and her sister for picture day. After a lesson in class about making the world how we want it to be, Faizah and her friend Sophie show kindness to their schoolmates. Then it’s picture time. And Faizah feels sad because she doesn’t match her big sister. With Jada’s help, Sophie shares her dress’s sash so that Faizah can wear a hijab, too. This book will help children consider that their actions can help the world be a better place.
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
When she was younger, Malala dreams of the things she’d do if she had a magic pencil. She’d erase war, poverty, and hunger. Then she would draw girls and boys together as equals. Soon she begins writing about her beliefs. Even after bad men tried to stop her, Malala writes, using her words as the magic to spread a message of hope. Beautifully illustrated and inspiring, this biographical story shares Malala’s ideals with the youngest of readers.
Bilal Cooks Daal by Aisha Saeed, illustrated by Anoosha Syed
Bilal tells his friends all about daal. Together, they carefully prepare the ingredients and wait as the flavors mix together. This story makes me want to eat daal, too — it’s a savory introduction to this lentil dish from South Asia as well as a warm-hearted example of sharing traditional foods with friends from other cultures.
Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi
Amira’s family is celebrating Eid, but it’s the same day as school pictures which she’s sad to miss. Once they go to their Eid celebration, Amira feels very happy and even happier when her mom takes her to school just in time for class pictures. I love learning about Amira’s Muslim holiday and seeing how her family celebrates Eid. Her range of emotions perfectly captures her day
Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqui, illustrated by Hatem Aly
Yasmin is an exuberant girl who is interested in everything from exploring to building to fashion. Each book in this series shares short stories from Yasmin’s life, all in chapters with lively, full-color illustrations. Each story shows Yasmin as a creative problem solver even when things get hard. Her Pakistani American culture is embedded throughout the story such as the foods Yasmin’s family eats like naan or how she calls her father Baba.
Magical Land of Birthdays by Amirah Kassem
Disney’s Daring Dreamers Club: Milla Takes Charge by Erin Soderberg
These girls relate their lives to Disney princesses for a class assignment and build strong bonds of friendship. I liked that it was told from the perspectives of five different friends yet the diversity of the group which includes a Muslim character and a girl with two moms felt a bit contrived.
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Many people love this warm-hearted story of kindness and connection to others narrated by wise old oak tree named Red. He, after all these years, decides to intervene to help a lonely girl named Samar, a Muslim girl, who is new to the neighborhood and whose family was the intended recipient of the word, “LEAVE” on Red’s trunk. Before he is cut down (executed), he helps Samar find a friend.
Power Forward by Hena Khan
Filled with Urdu and Pakistani culture, this is a short beginning chapter book about a boy who loves basketball. Unfortunately, he skips violin lessons and lies to his parents in order to go to extra basketball practices. Zayd learns some hard lessons both about honesty and communication with his family which, in the end, makes his life better.
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
Written in evocative verse, follow a young girl from her home in Syria as she moves with her mother to the United States. Jude’s journey is one of growing up, being brave, and discovery. Kids will see how Jude navigates her new situation as she relates to other ESL students in their safe classroom space, finds new friends, and performs in the school play. Her insights on life in America readers understand her immigrant experience.
Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year by Nina Hamza
Ahmed’s family moves from Hawaii to Minnesota to help his dad get treatment for his rare liver disease. At his new middle school, he’s bullied endlessly by his neighbor, Jack. Plus, even though he hates to read, his group needs Ahmed to do his part by reading the three assigned books. He eventually does and learns to think about books in a deeper way. Things get even more complicated when his dad goes into ICU, and someone makes a threat against the school pretending to be Ahmed. But, Ahmed learns to stand up for himself and focuses on what matters — his Muslim American family.
Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf
The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Experience Amira’s life in Sudan before and after her village is attacked. After the attack, she must walk for days to get to the safety of a refugee camp. In her grief, she also finds hope in the form of a precious pencil as she sees its possibilities.
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan
Magnus is a smart, snarky kid who is thrust into a crazy situation — the mythological Norse world because his dad is the god Frey. When Magnus dies, he’s taken to Valhalla, one of the Norse afterlife locations. There, he learns he must find a sword to prevent the end of the world (Ragnarok).Lucky for Magnus, he has friends who can help– an ex-Valkyrie Islamic girl named Samirah Al-abbas, an elf named Hearthstone, and a dwarf named Blitzen who are well-developed, interesting side-kick characters.
Amina’s struggling when her friend, Soojin, wants to change her name to be more American and be friends with other kids. Her troubles are put into perspective though when Amina’s mosque is attacked, dimming her worries about middle school drama. In a heartening turn of events, the community, including her friend Soojin, supports the mosque by providing a place for everyone to gather and helps them rebuild.
Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh
Marsh writes a stunning novel about two young boys from very different backgrounds — one is a refugee from Syria, while the other is an American who has just moved to Belgium. Interwoven in this timely, poignant story are the big issues of refugees, prejudice, fear, friendship, and kindness. To avoid the overcrowded refugee centers, Ahmed hides in the basement of the house of Max’s house. When he’s discovered by Max, the boys develop a friendship and they enroll Ahmed in Max’s school. But it can’t last forever…
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
Although it may sound like a heavy book, this is a funny, realistic story about growing up and living in a culture that is not your own. It’s the late 1970s and Zomorod (Cindy) and her family are back in the U.S. from Iran –again. Nevertheless, she’s desperate to fit in with the other kids despite facing both family pressures and anti-Iranian prejudice.
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed
Omar Rising by Aisha Saeed
Incredible writing about one (scholarship) boy’s fight to stay in a prestigious private school, this is a superb book of determination, resiliency, and community set in Pakistan. Omar gets a scholarship to attend a prestigious Pakistani boarding school, a step in fulfilling his dream of becoming an astronomer and buying his mom a house. But, his hopes are dashed when he’s told that scholarship students must work, must get A+ grades, and can’t do sports or clubs. Omar is grateful for his new friends and teachers but he’s worried he’ll lose it all so he studies all the time, even asking for tutoring help from the strict headmaster. Despite his efforts, his grades aren’t enough and he gets kicked out. Until, his classmates support him with a walk-out and the headmaster gets the board to change the board’s decision and the rules.
Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai
Miriam gets left behind when her family flees Afghanistan. Her brother Fadi feels responsible and hopes to find Miriam by winning a photography competition that will take him to India and then he can travel to find her. The author gives readers a strong sense of Afghani culture in this timely book.