Do you know any Muslim parents who are working hard at improving their personal gratitude to Allah SWT, and endeavouring to show their gratitude and trust in the Provider, by giving extra charity during Ramadan? If you know any Muslim parents, then it’s likely you know ones who are occupied in this way masha’Allah. It’s a Muslim behaviour that is commonly learned in childhood. So how might Muslim parents today be teaching their children active gratitude and charity?
Like many parents of different faiths and none, I choose experiential learning, role modelling, and careful naming of the act of giving charity as an honour and responsibility. Like many Muslims, I talk about trying to emulate the example of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). As a lover of children’s books, and a believer in the educational value of storytelling … which picture book titles have I chosen and noticed benefit from using?
My selection of books below stem from the premise that children (like adults) benefit from reminders to appreciate the gifts around them, that they need boundaries and guidance from adults to practice charity, and, importantly, to avoid developing greed, and that they want their charity-giving to be fun and beautiful….
In this story, a little girl and her mother go for a walk and sense various details in their environment through sight, sound, taste, understanding, touch, and movement – attributing each of them as being given by Allah SWT. In my experience, the dialogue between mother and daughter leads easily into dialogic reading and subsequent identification and attribution of Allah’s gifts.
It’s an excellent resource to introduce and return to appreciation of Allah’s beautiful provisions and how we access them – and older children can be engaged too, by the Darwin-like methodology of talking walks to experience the world in our immediate surroundings and learning through them.
The opening pages of this book tell the tale of a boy named Montmorency who indulged his greed for food so much that he burst, leaving his permissive parents in mourning. I have only read those pages through once to my children as it proved suffice for them to give up the greedy childhood habits they had unwittingly been growing, take up warning each other to not be like Montmorency, and request never to hear his story again. (We have enjoyed the rest of the book repeatedly, however.)
It’s a shockingly successful resource for curbing greed!
Young Safiyyah in this picture book is told about Sadaqah (charity), then makes a special jar for storing coins to donate as charity (like her father did at her age), and begins collecting. Inspired by Safiyyah, my young children made their own special clay jars for collecting charity. Nowadays, however, they receive pocket money and save it in money tins; thanks to their first experiences of saving for charity, they now consistently select fifty pence or so to give to charity whenever they withdraw funds into their purses, alhamdulillah.
It’s a motivating book to inspire children to enjoy giving charity.
… And which new release am I looking forward to using insha’Allah?
Noor Kids: Why Muslims Fast created by Amin and Mohammed Aaser
I have contributed to this book, alhamdulillah, so I know it includes an excellent story for facilitating children to learn, internalise, and get excited about giving charity masha’Allah – as well as much more. Insha’Allah it will be released next week.
So, how about you? What are your favourite books for creatively teaching gratitude and charity to children? Have you discovered new titles for this purpose during Ramadan this year? Do you know some Muslim parents who’d love the above books as ‘Eid presents for their children? You are welcome to reply in the comments below or tweet me @elizabethlymer.
This post was first published by Greenbird Books.
Elizabeth Lymer is the author of Religious Rhyme Time, an Abrahamic children’s interfaith book, as well as Islamic Nursery Rhymes and other books. She loves eating chocolate while she writes, and, with strictly chocolate-free fingers, she also creates Muslim and interfaith children’s gifts for book people at her Etsy shop, BarakahBedtimes. You can subscribe to her emails by clicking here.
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