Yesterday’s events in Paris at the offices of Charlie Hebdo were terrible (the word seems rather pathetic as I type it), and today’s post is my (somewhat insignificant but personally important) way of standing up for freedom of expression.
Rather than responding with derisive ridicule I feel that a response where we make efforts to better understand those we portray as enemies and those we simply don’t know would be much more constructive. Although humour has a place in helping us deal with the shock and horror of it all, laughing in the faces of those who acted yesterday isn’t going to stop this sort of thing happening again. Building understanding and reaching out might.
To that end, here’s a list of books for children and teenagers which might help spread understanding of what life can be like for Muslims living in the west. I haven’t read them all, but where possible I’ve indicated the (approximate) target age group. If you’ve further suggestions to make please leave them in the comments to this post.
Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan (3+)
I don’t want to blow you up – a colouring book (3+)
My Own Special Way by Mithaa Alkhayyat, retold by Vivian French, translated by Fatima Sharafeddini (5+)
Ramadan Moon, written by Na’ima B. Robert, illustrated by Shirin Adl (5+)
Wasim the Wanderer by Chris Ashley (5+)
My Friend Jamal by Anna McQuinn and Ben Frey (5+)
The Perfect Flower Girl by Taghred Chandab and Binny Talib (5+)
Mohammed’s Journey: A Refugee Diary by Anthony Robinson and Annemarie Young, illustrated by June Allen (7+)
Cinnamon Grove: The Black Cat Detectives by Wendy Meddour (7+)
Dahling if you Luv Me Would You Please Please Smile? by Rukhsana Khan (10+)
An Act of Love by Alan Gibbons (10+)
Mixing It by Rosemary Hayes (10+)
Head over Heart by Colette Victor (10+)
Dear Blue Sky by Mary Sullivan
Rashid and the Haupmann Diamond by Hassan Radwan
Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos Corona
Out of Nowhere by Maria Padian
Just Like Tomorrow by Faiza Gueve (12+)
Mind set written by Joanna Kenrick, illustrated by Julia Page (12+)
My Sister lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher (12+)
Drawing a veil by Lari Don (12+)
Just Like Tomorrow by Faiza Guene (12+)
I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amelie Sarn, translated by Y. Maudet (teenage).
She Wore Red Trainers by Na’ima B. Robert (teenage)
From Somalia with Love by Na’ima B. Robert (teenage)
Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah (teenage)
Ten Things I Hate About Myself by Randa Abdel-Fattah (teenage)
Boy Vs. Girl by Na’ima B. Robert (teenage)
Persepolis (especially book 2) by Marjane Satrapi (15+)
http://www.thisiswhereineedtobe.com/pages/resources_f.html provides further resources offering “more information on the Muslim community in the United States.”, including non-fiction books.
With the rise of Pegida in Germany, and the continued anti-immigration, anti-Muslim commentary that fills much political “debate” around the world it seems more urgent than ever to me that we find ways of talking about multicultural life, its richness and challenges. I’d also like to see more exploration why people commit acts of terror in books for children and young people. Over Christmas I read Palestine by Joe Sacco, a graphic novel aimed at adults about life in Palestine. It was utterly depressing but essential reading, and I wish more of this sort of thing, which looks at injustice, conflict (and the West’s role in this) were available for children and young people. [UPDATE 10 Jan: Joe Sacco has responded to this week’s terrible events in France with this comic strip that I urge you to take a look at.]
As several of those murdered yesterday were cartoonists, lots of illustrators have responded how they know best. Here are some cartoons created by children’s illustrators:
Sarah McIntyre also responded with a great post about how to start drawing comics and cartoons
My thanks go to Farah Mendlesohn, Rukshana Khan, Anabel Marsh, Marion, Melanie McGilloway, Melinda Ingram, Janice Morris, Anamaria Anderson, Tad Andracki, Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Judith Philo, Ann Dowker, Anna McQuinn, Sandhya Nankani, Sharon Levin, Keren Joshi, Alison Baker, Helen Watts, Gabriela Steinke and Alexandra Strick for their suggestions. I’m left thinking today especially of my French bookish friends Melanie and Sophie, and the families of everyone involved in yesterday’s events.