This list of Read in Color recommended reads explores experiences from the Muslim community. These titles are recommended by Little Free Library’s Diverse Books Advisory Group and others. The list of books includes options for early readers, middle and YA readers, and adults and advanced readers.
View all of the Read in Color Recommended Reading lists. These lists are far from exhaustive, but they offer a starting point for exploring different perspectives. We recognize that categorizing books can be limiting and are working to show the intersectionality within our reading lists.
Muslim (Early Readers)
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Abdul’s Story by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Tiffany Rose (40 pp, Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for You, 2022). Abdul loves to tell stories. But writing them down is hard. His letters refuse to stay straight and face the right way. And despite all his attempts, his papers often wind up with more eraser smudges than actual words. Abdul decides his stories just aren’t meant to be written down…until a special visitor comes to class and shows Abdul that even the best writers–and superheroes–make mistakes. Ages 4-8.
Amira’s Picture Day
Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi, illustrated by Fahmida Azim (40 pp, Holiday House, 2021). Just the thought of Eid makes Amira warm and tingly inside. From wearing new clothes to handing out goody bags at the mosque, Amira can’t wait for the festivities to begin. But when a flier on the fridge catches her eye, Amira’s stomach goes cold. Not only is it Eid, it’s also school picture day. If she’s not in her class picture, how will her classmates remember her? Won’t her teacher wonder where she is? Ages 4-8.
Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes
Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes by Hena Khan, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini (32 pp, Chronicle Books, 2018). From a crescent moon to a square garden to an octagonal fountain, this breathtaking picture book celebrates the shapes-and traditions-of the Muslim world. Ages 3-5.
Fatima’s Great Outdoors
Fatima’s Great Outdoors by Ambreen Tariq, illustrated by Stevie Lewis (40 pp, Kokila, 2021). Fatima Khazi is excited for the weekend. Her family is headed to a local state park for their first camping trip! The school week might not have gone as planned, but outdoors, Fatima can achieve anything. She sets up a tent with her father, builds a fire with her mother, and survives an eight-legged mutant spider (a daddy longlegs with an impressive shadow) with her sister. At the end of an adventurous day, the family snuggles inside one big tent, serenaded by the sounds of the forest. The thought of leaving the magic of the outdoors tugs at Fatima’s heart, but her sister reminds her that they can keep the memory alive through stories–and they can always daydream about what their next camping trip will look like. Ages 4-8.
Halal Hot Dogs
Halal Hot Dogs by Susannah Aziz, illustrated by Parwinder Singh (40 pp, Little Bee Books, 2021). Every Friday after Jummah prayer at the masjid, Musa’s family has a special Jummah treat. They take turns picking out what the treat will be, but recently the choices have been . . . interesting. Week one, Mama made molokhia. It’s perfect for sharing, but gives us molokhia teeth for days! Week two, Baba burned the kufte kebabs on the grill. Week three, Seedi made his favorite riz b’haleeb-creamy rice pudding with pistachio sprinkled on top with an unexpected ingredient. Last week, Maryam brought jellybeans. . . . Finally, it’s Musa’s turn to pick, and he picks his favorite-halal hot dogs! But actually getting to eat this deliciousness turns into a journey riddled with obstacles. Will he ever get his favorite tasty treat? Ages 4-8.
In My Mosque
In My Mosque by M. O. Yuksel, illustrated by Hatem Aly (40 pp, HarperCollins, 2021). No matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone is welcome here. From grandmothers reading lines of the Qur’an and the imam telling stories of living as one, to meeting new friends and learning to help others, mosques are centers for friendship, community, and love. Ages 4-8.
The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship
The Kindest Red: A Story of Hijab and Friendship by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S. K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly (40 pp, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2023). It’s picture day and Faizah can’t wait to wear her special red dress with matching hair ribbons, passed down from her mother and sister. Faizah’s teacher starts the day by asking her students to envision the kind of world they want, inspiring Faizah and her friends to spend the day helping one another in ways large and small.But when it’s time for sibling pictures, Faizah realizes that she and her older sister, Asiya, don’t match like her classmates do with their siblings. With help from her classmates inspired by Asiya’s hijab, Faizah finds that acts of kindness can come back to you in unexpected ways. Ages 4-8.
Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi, illustrated by Lea Lyon (32 pp, Tilbury House Publishers, 2015). Lailah is in a new school in a new country, thousands of miles from her old home, and missing her old friends. When Ramadan begins, she is excited that she is finally old enough to participate in the fasting but worried that her classmates won’t understand why she doesn’t join them in the lunchroom. Lailah solves her problem with help from the school librarian and her teacher and in doing so learns that she can make new friends who respect her beliefs. Ages 5-9.
Like the Moon Loves the Sky
Like the Moon Loves the Sky by Hena Khan, illustrated by Saffa Khan (40 pp, Chronicle Books, 2020). In this moving picture book, author Hena Khan shares her wishes for her children: “Inshallah you find wonder in birds as they fly. Inshallah you are loved, like the moon loves the sky.” With vibrant illustrations and prose inspired by the Quran, this charming picture book is a heartfelt and universal celebration of a parent’s unconditional love. Ages 3-5.
Malala’s Magic Pencil
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoët (48 pp, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2017). As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true. Ages 4-8.
Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi, illustrated by Hatem Aly (96 pp, Picture Window Books, 2018). Meet Yasmin! Yasmin is a spirited second-grader who’s always on the lookout for those “aha” moments to help her solve life’s little problems. Taking inspiration from her surroundings and her big imagination, she boldly faces any situation, assuming her imagination doesn’t get too big, of course! A creative thinker and curious explorer, Yasmin and her multi-generational Pakistani American family will delight and inspire readers. Ages 5-8.
Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Ebony Glenn (40 pp, Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018). A young girl plays dress up with her mother’s headscarves, feeling her mother’s love with every one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl’s life. Ages 4-8.
Moon’s Ramadan by Natasha Khan Kazi (40 pp, Versify, 2023). It’s Ramadan, the month of peace, and Moon watches over Ramadan traditions with excitement and longing in this sweetly illustrated debut. In Egypt, India, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates, in Somalia, New Zealand and Indonesia, in Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, children and their families do good deeds in honor of those who have less. Ages 4-8.
Muslim Girls Rise
Muslim Girls Rise: Inspirational Champions of Our Time by Saira Mir, illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel (48 pp, Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018). Discover the true stories of nineteen unstoppable Muslim women of the twenty-first century who have risen above challenges, doubts, and sometimes outright hostility to blaze trails in a wide range of fields. Whether it was the culinary arts, fashion, sports, government, science, entertainment, education, or activism, these women never took “no” for an answer or allowed themselves to be silenced. Instead, they worked to rise above and not only achieve their dreams, but become influential leaders. Ages 6 and up.
The Night Before Eid: A Muslim Family Story
The Night Before Eid: A Muslim Family Story by Aya Khalil, illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh (4 pp, Christy Ottaviano Books-Little Brown and Hachette, 2023). On the night before Eid, it’s finally time to make special sweet treats: Teita’s famous ka’ak. Zain eagerly unpacks the ingredients from his grandmother’s bulky suitcase: ghee from Khalo Karim, dates from Amo Girgis, and honey from Tant Tayseer–precious flavors all the way from Egypt. Together with Mama and Teita, Zain follows his family’s recipe and brings to life Eid songs and prayers, pharaonic history, and the melodies and tastes of his Egyptian heritage. Ages 4-8.
The Proudest Blue
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad, with S. K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly (40 pp, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2019). With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong. Ages 4-8.
Sadiq and the Green Thumbs
Sadiq and the Green Thumbs by Siman Nuurali, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar (64 pp, Picture Window Books, 2019). When Sadiq’s Dugsi teacher can’t take care of his yard because of an injury, Sadiq reluctantly agrees to help out. To make it more fun, Sadiq gathers together some friends to help. Can they care for their teacher’s garden and have fun at the same time? Ages 6-8.
Salma the Syrian Chef
Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron (40 pp, Annick Press, 2020). All Salma wants is to make her mama smile again. Between English classes, job interviews, and missing Papa back in Syria, Mama always seems busy or sad. A homemade Syrian meal might cheer her up, but Salma doesn’t know the recipe, or what to call the vegetables in English, or where to find the right spices! Luckily, the staff and other newcomers in her Welcome Home are happy to lend a hand—and a sprinkle of sumac. Ages 4-7.
Under My Hijab
Under My Hijab by Hena Khan, illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel (32 pp, Lee & Low Books, 2019). Grandma wears it clasped under her chin. Aunty pins hers up with a beautiful brooch. Jenna puts it under a sun hat when she hikes. Zara styles hers to match her outfit. As a young girl observes six very different women in her life who each wear the hijab in a unique way, she also dreams of the rich possibilities of her own future, and how she will express her own personality through her hijab. Written in sprightly rhyme and illustrated by a talented newcomer, Under My Hijab honors the diverse lives of contemporary Muslim women and girls, their love for each other, and their pride in their culture and faith. Ages 4-7.
What Color Is My Hijab?
What Color Is My Hijab? by Hudda Ibrahim, illustrated by Meenal Patel (30 pp, Beaver’s Pond Press, 2020). A children’s “learn your colors” book where a Muslim girl chooses what color hijab she’ll wear today! Ages 4-8.
Muslim (Middle Readers)
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Accused: My Story of Injustice
Accused: My Story of Injustice by Adama Bah (112 pp, Norton Young Readers, 2021). With sharp and engaging writing, Adama recounts the events surrounding her arrest and its impact on her life–the harassment, humiliation, and persecution she faced for crimes she didn’t commit. Accused brings forward a crucial and unparalleled first-person perspective of American culture post-9/11 and the country’s discrimination against Muslim Americans, and heralds the start of a new series of compelling narrative nonfiction by young people, for young people. Ages 9-12.
Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year
Ahmed Aziz’s Epic Year by Nina Hamza (320 pp, Quill Tree Books, 2021). Ahmed Aziz is having an epic year–epically bad. After his dad gets sick, the family moves from Hawaii to Minnesota for his dad’s treatment. Even though his dad grew up there, Ahmed can’t imagine a worse place to live. He’s one of the only brown kids in his school. And as a proud slacker, Ahmed doesn’t want to deal with expectations from his new teachers. Ahmed surprises himself by actually reading the assigned books for his English class: Holes, Bridge to Terabithia, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Shockingly, he doesn’t hate them. Ahmed also starts learning about his uncle, who died before Ahmed was born. Getting bits and pieces of his family’s history might be the one upside of the move, even as his dad’s health hangs in the balance and the school bully refuses to leave him alone. Will Ahmed ever warm to Minnesota? Ages 8-12.
All My Rage
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir (384 pp, Razorbill, 2022).
Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Clouds’ Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.
Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him–and Juniper–forever.When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth–and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst. Ages 14-17.
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed (240 pp, Puffin Books, 2020). Twelve-year-old Amal’s dream of becoming a teacher one day is dashed in an instant when she accidentally insults a member of her Pakistani village’s ruling family. As punishment for her behavior, she is forced to leave her heartbroken family behind and go work at their estate. Amal summons her courage and begins navigating the complex rules of life as a servant, with all its attendant jealousies and pecking-order woes. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s increasing awareness of the deadly measures the Khan family will go to in order to stay in control. It’s clear that their hold over her village will never loosen as long as everyone is too afraid to challenge them—so if Amal is to have any chance of ensuring her loved ones’ safety and winning back her freedom, she must find a way to work with the other servants to make it happen. Ages 10-13.
Amina’s Song by Hena Khan (288 pp, Salam Reads, 2021). It’s the last few days of her vacation in Pakistan, and Amina has loved every minute of it. The food, the shops, the time she’s spent with her family—all of it holds a special place in Amina’s heart. Now that the school year is starting again, she’s sad to leave, but also excited to share the wonders of Pakistan with her friends back in Greendale. After she’s home, though, her friends don’t seem overly interested in her trip. And when she decides to do a presentation on Pakistani hero Malala Yousafzai, her classmates focus on the worst parts of the story. How can Amina share the beauty of Pakistan when no one wants to listen? 8-12.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan (208 pp, Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018). Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized. 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. Ages 8-12.
Huda F Are You?
Huda F Are You? by Huda Fahmy (192 pp, Dial Books, 2021). Huda and her family just moved to Dearborn, Michigan, a small town with a big Muslim population. In her old town, Huda knew exactly who she was: She was the hijabi girl. But in Dearborn, everyone is the hijabi girl. Huda is lost in a sea of hijabis, and she can’t rely on her hijab to define her anymore. She has to define herself. So she tries on a bunch of cliques, but she isn’t a hijabi fashionista or a hijabi athlete or a hijabi gamer. She’s not the one who knows everything about her religion or the one all the guys like. She’s miscellaneous, which makes her feel like no one at all. Until she realizes that it’ll take finding out who she isn’t to figure out who she is. Ages 12-17.
Internment by Samira Ahmed (400 pp, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020). Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens. With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the camp’s Director and his guards. Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today. Ages 12 and up.
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan (336 pp, Scholastic, 2019). Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali has always been fascinated by the universe around her and the laws of physics that keep everything in order. But her life at home isn’t so absolute. Unable to come out to her conservative Muslim parents, she keeps that part of her identity hidden. And that means keeping her girlfriend, Ariana, a secret from them too. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life at home and a fresh start at Caltech in the fall. But when Rukhsana’s mom catches her and Ariana together, her future begins to collapse around her. Devastated and confused, Rukhsana’s parents whisk her off to stay with their extended family in Bangladesh where, along with the loving arms of her grandmother and cousins, she is met with a world of arranged marriages, religious tradition, and intolerance. Fortunately, Rukhsana finds allies along the way and, through reading her grandmother’s old diary, finds the courage to take control of her future and fight for her love. Ages 14 and up.
The Night Diary
The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani (288 pp, Puffin Books, 2019). It’s 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can’t imagine losing her homeland, too. Told through Nisha’s letters to her mother, The Night Diary is a heartfelt story of one girl’s search for home, for her own identity…and for a hopeful future. Ages 8-12.
Once Upon an Eid
Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed (304 pp, Harry N. Abrams, 2020). Once Upon an Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid! Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. Ages 8-12.
Other Words for Home
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (352 pp, Balzer + Bray, 2019). 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. Ages 8-12.
Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet
Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian (224 pp, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2020). 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. Ages 8-12.
Saints and Misfits
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali (336 pp, Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018). There are three kinds of people in my world: 1. Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They’re in your face so much, you can’t see them, like how you can’t see your nose. 2. Misfits, people who don’t belong. Like me—the way I don’t fit into Dad’s brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama’s-Boy-Muhammad. Also, there’s Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don’t go together. Same planet, different worlds. But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right? 3. Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O’Connor’s stories. Like the monster at my mosque. People think he’s holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask. Ages 14 and up.
A Thousand Questions
A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi (320 pp, Quill Tree Books, 2020). 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. Ages 8-12.
Unsettled by Reem Faruqi (352pp, HarperCollins, 2021). When her family moves from Pakistan to Peachtree City, all Nurah wants is to blend in, yet she stands out for all the wrong reasons. Nurah’s accent, floral-print kurtas, and tea-colored skin make her feel excluded, until she meets Stahr at swimming tryouts. And in the water Nurah doesn’t want to blend in. She wants to win medals like her star athlete brother, Owais–who is going through struggles of his own in the U.S. Yet when sibling rivalry gets in the way, she makes a split-second decision of betrayal that changes their fates. Ultimately Nurah slowly gains confidence in the form of strong swimming arms, and also gains the courage to stand up to bullies, fight for what she believes in, and find her place. Ages 8-12.
A Very Large Expanse of Sea
A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi (336 pp, HarperCollins, 2019). It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped. Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother. But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down. Ages 13-17.
When Stars Are Scattered
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (264 pp, Dial Books, 2020). Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future … but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story. Ages 9-12.
Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero
Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero by Saadia Faruqi (368 pp, Quill Tree Books, 2021). Yusuf Azeem has spent all his life in the small town of Frey, Texas–and nearly that long waiting for the chance to participate in the regional robotics competition, which he just knows he can win. Only, this year is going to be more difficult than he thought. Because this year is the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an anniversary that has everyone in his Muslim community on edge. With “Never Forget” banners everywhere and a hostile group of townspeople protesting the new mosque, Yusuf realizes that the country’s anger from two decades ago hasn’t gone away. Can he hold onto his joy–and his friendships–in the face of heartache and prejudice? Ages 8-12.
Zara Hossain Is Here
Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan (256 pp, Scholastic, 2021). Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years. But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it. Ages 14 and up.
Muslim (Adult Readers)
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American Fever by Dur E Aziz Amna (288 pp, Arcade Publishing, 2022). On a year-long exchange program in rural Oregon, a Pakistani student, sixteen-year-old Hira, must swap Kashmiri chai for volleyball practice and try to understand why everyone around her seems to dislike Obama. A skeptically witty narrator, Hira finds herself stuck between worlds. The experience is memorable for reasons both good and bad; a first kiss, new friends, racism, Islamophobia, homesickness. Along the way Hira starts to feel increasingly unwell until she begins coughing up blood, and receives a diagnosis of tuberculosis, pushing her into quarantine and turning her newly established home away from home upside down.
Ayesha at Last
Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin (368 pp, Berkley, 2019). A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love. Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and the unsettling new gossip she hears about his family. Looking into the rumors, she finds she has to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but also the truth she realizes about herself.
The Beauty of Your Face
The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah (312 pp, W. W. Norton & Company, 2020). A uniquely American story told in powerful, evocative prose, The Beauty of Your Face navigates a country growing ever more divided. Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter―radicalized by the online alt-right―attacks the school. As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories: the bigotry she faced as a child, her mother’s dreams of returning to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of her older sister that tore her family apart. Still, there is the sweetness of the music from her father’s oud, and the hope and community Afaf finally finds in Islam.
Call Me American
Call Me American: A Memoir by Abdi Nor Iftin (320 pp, Vintage, 2019). Abdi Nor Iftin first fell in love with America from afar. As a child, he learned English by listening to American pop and watching action films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. When U.S. marines landed in Mogadishu to take on the warlords, Abdi cheered the arrival of these Americans, who seemed as heroic as those of the movies. Sporting American clothes and dance moves, he became known around Mogadishu as Abdi American, but when the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab rose to power in 2006, it became dangerous to celebrate Western culture. In an amazing stroke of luck, Abdi won entrance to the U.S. in the annual visa lottery, though his route to America did not come easily. Now a proud resident of Maine, on the path to citizenship, Abdi Nor Iftin’s dramatic, deeply stirring memoir is truly a story for our time: a vivid reminder of why America still beckons to those looking to make a better life.
The Complete Persepolis
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (341 pp, Pantheon, 2007). Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom—Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (256 pp, Riverhead Books, 2018). In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through…. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, Exit West tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.
Go Back to Where You Came from
Go Back to Where You Came from: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become an American by Wajahat Ali (272 pp, W.W. Norton & Company, 2022). Growing up living the suburban American dream, young Wajahat devoured comic books (devoid of brown superheroes) and fielded well-intentioned advice from uncles and aunties. (“Become a doctor!”) He had turmeric stains under his fingernails, was accident-prone, suffered from OCD, and wore Husky pants, but he was as American as his neighbors, with roots all over the world. Then, while Ali was studying at University of California, Berkeley, 9/11 happened. Muslims replaced communists as America’s enemy #1, and he became an accidental spokesman and ambassador of all ordinary, unthreatening things Muslim-y.
Hana Khan Carries on
Hana Khan Carries on by Uzma Jalaluddin (368 pp, Berkley Books, 2021). For fans of You’ve Got Mail, a young woman juggles pursuing her dream job in radio while helping her family compete with the new halal restaurant across the street, in this sparkling new rom-com by the author of Ayesha at Last.
Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar (368 pp, Little, Brown and Company, 2020). A deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at its heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home. Ayad Akhtar forges a new narrative voice to capture a country in which debt has ruined countless lives and the gods of finance rule, where immigrants live in fear, and where the nation’s unhealed wounds wreak havoc around the world. Akhtar attempts to make sense of it all through the lens of a story about one family, from a heartland town in America to palatial suites in Central Europe to guerrilla lookouts in the mountains of Afghanistan, and spares no one—least of all himself—in the process.
A Map of Home
A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar (464 pp, Balzer + Bray, 2017). In this fresh, funny, and fearless debut novel, Randa Jarrar chronicles the coming-of-age of Nidali, one of the most unique and irrepressible narrators in contemporary fiction. Born in 1970s Boston to an Egyptian-Greek mother and a Palestinian father, the rebellious Nidali—whose name is a feminization of the word “struggle”—soon moves to a very different life in Kuwait. There the family leads a mildly eccentric middle-class existence until the Iraqi invasion drives them first to Egypt and then to Texas. This critically acclaimed debut novel is set to capture the hearts of everyone who has ever wondered what their own map of home might look like.
A Place for Us
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (377 pp, SJP for Hogarth, 2018). As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made. There is Hadia: their headstrong, eldest daughter, whose marriage is a match of love and not tradition. Huda, the middle child, determined to follow in her sister’s footsteps. And lastly, their estranged son, Amar, who returns to the family fold for the first time in three years to take his place as brother of the bride. What secrets and betrayals have caused this close-knit family to fracture? Can Amar find his way back to the people who know and love him best? A Place for Us takes us back to the beginning of this family’s life: from the bonds that bring them together, to the differences that pull them apart.
The Royal Abduls
The Royal Abduls by Ramiza Shamoun Koya (304 pp, Forest Avenue Press, 2020). Ramiza Shamoun Koya’s debut novel follows the lives of an evolutionary biologist and her ten-year-old nephew in post-9/11 Washington, D.C. Omar’s mother is white, his first-generation American father never walks to talk about India or what it means to be Muslim, and Omar struggles to find a cultural identity that fits. When Amina arrives from the West Coast for a hybrid zone lab job, Omar’s parents begin relying on her for childcare. Despite the demands of her male-dominated workplace and her preference for solitude, she becomes close to her nephew. As Amina’s hesitant romance with a Sikh cricket coach blossoms, Omar’s parents’ marriage fractures and leaves him vulnerable to finding answers in dangerous places.
The Thirty Names of Night
The Thirty Names of Night by Zeyn Joukhadar (377 pp, SJP for Hogarth, 2018). Five years after a suspicious fire killed his ornithologist mother, a closeted Syrian American trans boy sheds his birth name and searches for a new one. He has been unable to paint since his mother’s ghost has begun to visit him each evening. As his grandmother’s sole caretaker, he spends his days cooped up in their apartment, avoiding his neighborhood masjid, his estranged sister, and even his best friend (who also happens to be his longtime crush). The only time he feels truly free is when he slips out at night to paint murals on buildings in the once-thriving Manhattan neighborhood known as Little Syria…. Following his mother’s ghost, he uncovers the silences kept in the name of survival by his own community, his own family, and within himself, and discovers the family that was there all along.
We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders
We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders: A Memoir of Love and Resistance by Linda Sarsour (272 pp, 37 Ink, 2020). Linda Sarsour, co-organizer of the Women’s March, shares an “unforgettable memoir” (Booklist) about how growing up Palestinian Muslim American, feminist, and empowered moved her to become a globally recognized activist on behalf of marginalized communities across the country.
A Woman Is No Man
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum (352 pp, Harper, 2019). In her debut novel Etaf Rum tells the story of three generations of Palestinian-American women struggling to express their individual desires within the confines of their Arab culture in the wake of shocking intimate violence in their community—a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.