It is extremely important to instill the love of reading in children. As a parent, you should:
- Read to your kids from a young age
- Have a variety good books at their disposal
- Ensure that the content in the books are beneficial for them
Alhamdulillah, we have been collecting good books for our children for many years, and have bookshelves lined with carefully chosen, wholesome literature for their benefit. I purchased some of our books in gently used condition, as it was more affordable, as well as less heartsore if one of the kids ruined it. However, it’s a good idea to choose classics from certain publishers, because the illustrations and print layout may be better. Books in hardcover format will last longer and be more cost-effective in the long run if you’re using it with multiple kids.
Visiting the Library
Borrowing books from the library is another option but always seems to be more of an effort for my family. I mean, between driving the kids to the library, scouting the author and title for each child in different sections of the library, carting a huge stack of books to be scanned one by one, all the while praying that no kid needs a bathroom break anytime soon, became quite unappealing. Not to mention making sure to remember the due dates, then finding the books strewn around the house to return it, and then driving the whole gang back to the library to do it all over again. Once we get to the library, of course, we have overdue fees again and “ugh”, I think I should have just bought the darn books!
It seemed less expensive and a lot wiser to buy our books online and line our own bookshelves instead. We also thought that once our kids were done reading the books, we could pass it on to our children’s children one day or to another family with young kids. One could also resell the books, so there is really no loss. I didn’t give up the library, though, as nowadays the library is digital and my teens borrow books online at their leisure and there is never any overdue fees! Also, they can listen to audio books and I do not need to worry about scratched CDs! I’m loving that aspect of the library the best.
Instilling the Love of Books
I have heard many moms tell me that their children do not like books or they struggle to make their kids read a book, so what to do? I strongly believe that if you allow your children to watch a lot of Tvs, use the computer, tablet or phone often, your children will find reading boring. I mean how can a book compete with all those moving, colorful graphics! It is our responsibility as parents to limit screen time tremendously and give our kids books first. I understand that as parents we get exhausted and overwhelmed sometimes, so we give our kids devices to unwind and relax, but they can be just as occupied with books once they cultivate the habit. In our home, we set a
In our home, we set a specific time and a certain limit on screen time, but more importantly, we are very particular about what they watch and if they’ve earned their screen time by completing their more important tasks first (reading being one of them).
I also know of parents who have totally eliminated devices from their children’s lives, which may seem ideal for some, but after a certain age, I do not think it’s possible. As Muslims, we should always take the balanced approach and because media has become a part of life, we should teach our children to be responsible when using it. Kids can use devices in a halal way by restricting content and preventing it from taking time away from ibadah. This will arm them better for the future than eliminating devices completely.
An Awesome Book List
What has helped me tremendously in guiding my children with quality books is an amazing reading list that was researched as suitable for Muslim kids. The intention behind this list “…is to prepare a list of books that in some way further Islamic values, while containing no un-Islamic values”. This list was created by a dedicated Muslima, Dr. Freda Shamma. She is a retired teacher, educator, curriculum writer, and founder of the Foundation for Advancement and Development of Education and Learning (FADEL), that supports curriculum development in Islamic schools. She has also completed an Anthology of Muslim Literature. Dr. Shamma says,
“…this is a list of well written children’s books commonly found in K-12 school libraries that has been reviewed and rated for Islamic content”.
Dr. Shamma explains the criteria of the reading list on The Isla Website:
“There are many thousands of books aimed at young people, and thousands of them are appealing to children. In preparing this list of books that develops and/or reinforces Islamic values, we are not suggesting that children should not read any of the appealing ‘fluff,’ those books that entertain but don’t teach. We are suggesting that too many of these appealing books actually contain ideas that go against Islamic values, and teachers and parents need to be very selective as to which books they want to encourage their children to read.
In preparing this list, we have paid particular attention to several prominent, un-Islamic features and tried to select books that include the Islamic value. Therefore, we might not include a book that includes the value of helping others if it features someone who does this action with no family interaction. If the illustration shows a parent in the background or the character speaks positively to a parent before going to help someone, then we consider that a good book to recommend. While it is not about family, it does include family.”
The book list by Dr. Shamma was compiled on the basis that:
- The family is important. As discussed above
- The family is comprised of humans. Parallel to the idea that you don’t need family, is the idea that what you need instead is a pet, preferably a dog. Therefore, one should be careful of books in which many animals are featured as ‘family.’
- Best friends should be of the same gender. It is unsettling how many books written even for 4-5-year-olds push the idea that one’s best friend should be of the opposite gender. Although there is certainly nothing wrong with young children playing with the opposite gender, there is no good going to come from stressing the boy-girl relationship continuously from age 4 to age 18.
- Witches and magic have a minor role. Although most Muslims will not object to occasional stories with witches and magic, as long as they are firmly placed in a fantasy world, one must be careful to minimize stories featuring them, particularly when they appear in otherwise normal settings.
- Working for the good of others is important. Although we cannot expect to find the Islamic idea that all work and all life should be done for the sake of Allah and for the good of humanity, we do need to look for stories that stress the benefit of working for the good of others. Too often the idea is put forth that people should do whatever feels good for them, i.e. be an artist because you have talent and want to paint, regardless what kind of artist you will become – Source
As you can see, this list was carefully scanned for Muslim children’s benefit. We are honored to find such a dedicated person who is taking the time out of their busy life to provide us with this invaluable effort. It is with great pleasure that I share this reading list on Muslimommy for you start a mini library for your kids. Knowing that your children are reading quality, moral and wholesome books is a great relief for moms! JazakAllah khair to Dr. Fred Shamma and all who helped, may Allah reward them immensely, ameen.