Alfonso Casani – FUNCI
Reading is one of the best means to transmit values, a way to raise new questions and expand the basis on which are knowledge relies on. It is also an essential pillar of culture and education. On the Islamic Culture Foundation, we consider that these two fields are vital for the tackling of stereotypes and prejudices, as well as for contributing to a more open and multicultural world. From a perspective of tolerance and multiculturalism, it is the perfect way to discover that cultures, peoples and countries are in constant interrelation, that their history is the result of many identities and contacts, and, therefore, we are not so different as we sometimes assume.
At a young age, reading is even more important. Books contribute to expand the knowledge of children. It shows them a world more diverse than their surroundings, that there are other races and cultures, and it contributes to transmitting positive values that promote tolerance and coexistence. At the same time, it fosters imagination, gives them new tools of analysis, and question the limits of our reality. In sum, it shows them that a different world is possible if we dare to imagine it.
For this article, we have chosen several children book that contribute to foster coexistence, tackling racism and islamophobia. These recommendations include books for children between 2-5 years old, and their goal is to teach, in a fun way, new cultures, races and religions, to transfer positive values and to contribute to the development of empathy. In doing so, they present situations which are difficult to understand when you are young, such as discrimination, the situations faced by refugees, or the restrictive role of frontiers.
Hats of faith (by Medeia Cohan): A nice book to talk about religion and the different faiths that exist across the world. The book uses the different head covers that exist to show that there are many religions and beliefs, and the world is more multicultural than we believe.
Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes (by Hena Khan): A wonderful book to understand the Muslim world. Through high-quality illustrations this book portrays the different traditions, spaces and monuments Muslims have: from the crescent moon, to cone-tip minarets, from square gardens to octagonal fountains.
Migrants (by Issa Watanabe): This book doesn’t actually have dialogues, instead, it has splendid images that portray the lives of a group of animals who are forced to leave their forest when it runs out of resources. Although it is aimed at children, the book shows the reality and difficulties faced by the migrant population on their everyday lives.
All are welcome (by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman): Follow a day at school to realize how diverse all children are, the many different religions, cultures, abilities or hobbies they have. All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, and they are welcome in their school. As the book states:
No matter how you start your day,
What you wear when you play,
Or if you come from far away,
All are welcome here.
Race cars (by Jenny Devenny): This books aims at helping children understand about races, and the negative differences they sometimes entail. It tells the story of a white and a black ca, both are friends and both participate in the same race, but under completely rules different.
Antiracist baby (by Ibram X, Kendi Lukashevsky y Ashley Lukashevsky): With a more mature approach, this books offers children nine steps to follow in order to follow an antiracist path and to contribute to a more fair and open society.