And just like that 2020 is coming to an end ! With so many lockdowns here in the UK and many of our homeschooling activities being cancelled , one positive thing that has come out of it, is my older children ( 11 and nearly 10) spending even more time reading books.
In this Blog post, I am sharing their TOP 10 favourite books, read in 2020. Some of the books were published in 2020, others weren’t . I have provided Amazon links to all of them. Please note that these are affiliated links .
We are big fans of the super talented Onjali Rauf. My children loved reading ” The Boy at the back of the class ” and “The star outside my window”. If you have not read them, then you are definitely missing out. I will tell you what I absolutely love about her books ( having read her first two myself ) that she is one of the very very few authors that deals with issues that can be really often hard to be understood by children and needless to say written in a super child friendly and compassionate way, whether it’s refugees or domestic violence or homelessness ( the topic she explores in her latest book) . The night Bus Hero “ is aimed for children aged 9-11.
Here is the blurb :
“I’ve been getting into trouble for as long I can remember. Usually I don’t mind ‘cos some of my best, most brilliant ideas have come from sitting in detention.
But recently it feels like no one believes me about anything – even when I’m telling the truth! And it’s only gotten worse since I played a prank on the old man who lives in the park.Everyone thinks I’m just a bully. They don’t believe I could be a hero.But I’m going to prove them all wrong…Told from the perspective of a bully, this book explores themes of bullying and homelessness, while celebrating kindness, friendship and the potential everyone has to change for the good. “
My 11 year old daughter absolutely loved this book . She told me that it reminded her a lot of Bangladesh and she has been recommending it to her friends too. The book is aimed for children aged 8-12. I do think it will be enjoyed more by girls rather than boys . Here is the blurb:
“Set against the backdrop of Karachi, Pakistan, Saadia Faruqi’s tender and honest middle grade novel tells the story of two girls navigating a summer of change and family upheaval with kind hearts, big dreams, and all the right questions.
Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal.
The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score—but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen?Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common—and that they each need the other to get what they want most.
This relatable and empathetic story about two friends coming to understand each other will resonate with readers who loved Other Words for Home and Front Desk. “
As soon as my daughter finished “ A thousand questions “, she asked me if the author has written another book for older children and behold a few weeks later I found out from the Instagram page of Saadia Faruqi , that she wrote another book this year together with Laura Shovan . The book didn’t disappoint and was once again absolutely loved by my daughter . The book is aimed for children aged 10-12 .
“A timely, accessible, and beautifully written story exploring themes of food, friendship, family and what it means to belong, featuring sixth graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl taking a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mom.Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression. The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking, and which Sara, who hates to cook, is forced to attend because her mother is the teacher. The girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens, and they make plans to create the most amazing, mouth-watering cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners . . . but can they learn to trust each other enough to become true friends?”
There are two books by the author – “ The competition begins “ and “ Year Captain”- I can honestly only give praise to these two books and I cannot recommend them highly enough . My son absolutely loved them and without exaggeration didn’t put them down until he finished reading them . And believe me, they are thick books . It’s truly amazing to see books like this for Muslim pre teens and teens. Thoroughly recommend them and I hope the author writes more . My son mentioned that the books are like “ Mallory towers “ but for Muslim children.
“It’s Yusif’s first time away from home to boarding school. The Dar Al Ilm Academy seemed to be the ideal place for him to pursue his studies, and achieve one of his lifelong ambitions – to memorise the Qur’an – or so his parents had decided… However, within the impressive walls of the old school, Yusif finds himself with more on his hands than he had bargained for. With house competitions, the pressure to become year captain, and some very mysterious goings-on, Dar Al Ilm has more in store for him than he had ever imagined! Following on from the tradition of popular adventure stories of old such as Enid Blyton’s Famous Five or Malory Towers, The House of Ibn Kathir – The Competition Begins is an exciting illustrated children’s novel where traditional story telling is interwoven with Islamic knowledge and values creating a fun, adventure packed, new genre for older Muslim children to read. Bought from Anafiya Gifts
5. “ Incredible Rescue Mission – Book 3 Planet Omar By Zanib Mian
We are massive fans of the super talented Zanib Mian and we have nearly every single book written by her . My children were patiently waiting for the third book of Planet Omar to be released this year . Needless to say , we all absolutely loved it . And if you haven’t read anything from Zanib Mian , well , you are missing out .
“Welcome back to Planet Omar! The third book in Zanib Mian’s laugh-out-loud series, with amazing cartoon-style illustrations from Nasaya Mafaridik. Perfect for fans of Tom Gates and Wimpy Kid.When Omar and his friends come back after the school holidays, their lovely teacher seems to have been replaced by somebody much more grumpy. Overhearing other teachers talking about her, Omar decides something terrible has happened. Could she possibly have been abducted by … aliens?! Omar persuades his friends to mount a rescue mission but what they find is very surprising! “
“Incredible Rescue Mission “ can be bought from https://www.thebookmart.co.uk/product-category/shop/
This is an omnibus edition collecting all four of the Deen Family adventure stories into one volume. There are two stories about Layla Deen and two about Ahmad Deen. The adventures chronicle the lives of two Muslim American teenagers as they negotiate the pitfalls of life in the modern world even as they learn a lot about themselves and their place in the world. Fast-paced action and moral lessons throughout.”
My daughter enjoyed reading these stories and this book is definitely targeted at older children aged 11/12 and above.
If you are looking for an inspirational and moving read for your older children, then make sure you gift them this brilliant book . My 11 year old daughter recently read it and absolutely loved it . She even asked if the author has written another one. And you know one of the signs of someone enjoying their book , is when they go around convincing all the other family members that they must read it . So I am also reading it at the moment and half way through , I can also confirm that it’s just a beautifully written book that not only children but also adults should read . We have read so many other brilliant books about refugees, but there are very very few that depict the whole journey from country of origin, home, to resettling and rebuilding a life. And this is one of those books . It is an emotional read so be prepared to shed more than a few tears too . Thoroughly recommend .
Here is the blurb : “This debut middle-grade novel chronicles the harrowing journey taken by Sami and his family from privilege to poverty, across countries and continents, from a comfortable life in Damascus, via a smuggler’s den in Turkey, to a prison in Manchester. A story of survival, of family, of bravery … In a world where we are told to see refugees as the ‘other’, this story will remind readers that ‘they’ are also ‘us’.”
My daughter really enjoyed reading this book. It is a heartwarming story of a girl just entering middle school and trying to figure out who she is. Hena Khan is a super talented author and we already have quite a few of her books ( “Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns” and “It’s Ramadan, Curious George “. She does a brilliant job of describing the feelings of the main character and the common feeling children have as they enter those awkward middle school years. This book is set in the USA but anyone living in the UK will also enjoy reading it .
.. “ Amina’s anxieties are entirely relatable, but it’s her sweet-hearted nature that makes her such a winning protagonist.
A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this “compassionate, timely novel. Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani-American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other. “
Reading Level- 8-12 years old. “Amina’s voice “ can be bought from Amazon
This is really a beautiful and super inspirational read and I cannot praise it highly enough . Both my daughter and I read it and we loved it . It’s aimed at children aged 8-12, although I would say that an 8 year old may struggle reading it , so I would recommend it more for children aged 9/10 and above . Here is the blurb :
“A gorgeously written, hopeful middle grade novel in verse about a young girl who must leave Syria to move to the United States, perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Aisha Saeed. Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.
At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US–and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises–there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is. This lyrical, life-affirming story is about losing and finding home and, most importantly, finding yourself. “
10. “ When Wings expand “ by Mehded Maryam Sinclair
This is one incredible and beautiful read. Make sure you have lots of tissues nearby because you will be crying . A powerful and emotional read – I am also, myself , a big fan of Maryam’s writing and this just didn’t disappoint at all . I would definitely recommend for children aged 10//11 and above but also adults would love reading this gem too. Here are the details :
. “Winner of the Unpublished Muslim Writer’s Award 2011. Writing on the pages of her journal, Nur, a teenage girl in Canada, charts the onset and advance of her mother’s cancer. Nur watches her mother’s body begin to shrink and her mood begin to darken. And when family and friends begin to encroach, Nur must face the prospect of her mother’s looming death…..”
Mehded Maryam Sinclair is such a talented writer ( we have her children’s books as well ) and she truly is an amazing story teller. She has done an incredible job of dealing with death in such a delicate and beautiful way. “This is a book full of hope. A hope that dispels many fears that people have surrounding death and turns them into wings that long to take flight. “. I also absolutely loved how verses of the Quran were so beautifully intertwined in the whole story . Truly , truly a must read . Bought from Kube Publishing –https://www.kubepublishing.com
This blog post is in collaboration with some other lovely bloggers , who are also sharing their children’s favourite books for 2020. I have included all the links below :
Fozia , aka Muslim Mummy is sharing her top 5 Islamic children’s books- http://Mines live https://www.muslimmummies.com/2020/12/our-top-5-islamic-childrens-books-of-2020/
Hafsa , aka Mama Teaches Me is sharing her Top 10 favourite Islamic books for children- https://www.mamateachesme.com/2020/12/28/our-top-10-favourite-islamic-books-for-children-2020/?fbclid=IwAR1gXf1-s8eMhcM0-iZddK8oH9U67tFoYCBzBxNC8xkocRrpu7_hvFq4AT4