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[DiverseKidLit] From Abu Dhabi To Peachtree City in America in “Lailah’s Lunchbox”

Myra here.

Welcome to #DiverseKidLit ! Please join us in sharing your diverse children’s book links and resources, as well as visiting other links to find great suggestions and recommendations.

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

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We hope this community serves as a resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, December 2nd and the first Saturday of each month.

We hope this community serves as a resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, January 6th and the first Saturday of each month.

Most Clicked Post from Last Time

The most-clicked post from the previous #diversekidlit was on Diverse Female Superheroes and in Children’s Books … and Why We Need Them by author Sonia Panigrahy. She shares about her own diverse female superhero as well as some important thoughts about the need to share and promote books like this for all children. Thank so much to Bethany at Biracial Bookworms for sharing this great interview!

Our theme this November – December has to do with writing home, or the hues of diaspora in literature – the plight of the (im)migrant, refugees, those seeking sanctuary or another place to call home.

Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story

Written byReem Faruqi Illustrated by: Lea Lyon
Published byTilbury House, 2015 ISBN: 0884484319 (ISBN13: 9780884484318)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me

Lailah has just moved from Abu Dhabi to Peachtree city in the US. Thus, her excitement over finally being considered grown up enough (at ten years old) to fast during Ramadan, is somewhat dampened by the fact that she won’t be able to fast with her best friends Hend and Ishrat back home.

It is during pivotal moments such as these that the absence of familiar things (and being considered ‘foreign’) is more keenly felt by young people like Lailah. To make things easier for Lailah, her mother prepared a note for her teacher, Mrs. Penwroth, indicating that she is fasting during Ramadan and for her to be excused from lunch during the entire month.

However, Lailah was not able to muster up the courage to even give the note to her teacher, after she was singled out for not having brought her lunch box – with well-meaning classmates offering to share their lunch with Lailah. A bit overwhelmed, Laila sought refuge in that one place where she felt safe, seen, and heard: the library.

It was Mrs. Carman, the Librarian, who immediately picked up on Lailah’s predicament, and helped her work through it, so that she is able to tell her teacher that she is fasting during Ramadan, despite her feelings of embarrassment. This is a lovely book that encourages young children to speak up, and also a gentle reminder for teachers to be sensitive to the different cultural backgrounds of our students, and be more mindful of our unexamined assumptions that may lead us, albeit unwittingly, to single out certain students without our realizing it. For teachers who wish to use this in the classroom, here is a downloadable PDF link prepared by ADL’s (Anti-Defamation League) Education Division Book of the Month containing possible discussion questions, extension activities, as well as additional resources that can be explored.

#DiverseKidLit is Hosted by:

Gauri @ Kitaab World
an online bookstore for South Asian children’s books, toys and games
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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Singapore. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she serves as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads or meeting up with her book club friends, she is smashing that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life.

1 comment on “[DiverseKidLit] From Abu Dhabi To Peachtree City in America in “Lailah’s Lunchbox”

  1. Thank you for sharing your beautiful review and thoughts of my book Lailah’s Lunchbox! I enjoyed reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

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