Night of the Moon (Written by Hena Khan; Illustrated by Julie Paschkis)
Picture book for preK-3rd grade students, contemporary
Seven-year-old girl as main character
Rating: Beautiful, beautiful illustrations. The author is clever and shows the celebration of Ramadan through a young girl’s eyes while she keeps track of the phases of the moon. Wonderful!
Short, short summary: Yasmeen is a Pakistani-American girl, trying to understand how the moon’s phases affect the celebration of Ramadan. She has always loved Ramadan because it is filled with delicious foods, new clothes, parties, and presents. But this year, she is also keeping track of how the phases of the moon dictate what her family is doing during the month. For example, when the moon is half full, Yasmeen and her family go to the mosque with huge pots of food for a time of sharing. When she sees the full moon, she knows that Ramadan is half over. This is a wonderful book to show a culture of modern people in America celebrating an important holiday to them. It does not go into why Ramadan is celebrated–just the things people do on a day-to- day basis, so it is perfect to share in your classroom, especially when many Muslim people are misunderstood in today’s society.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. You can do a sequencing activity with your students. Ask students to write down each time the moon is mentioned (or if you are doing this activitiy with a younger class or younger students, you can write the moon phases mentioned together on chart paper). Next to the moon phase that Yasmeen notices in the book, ask students to write down how her family is celebrating on that night. For older elementary students, you can do this on index cards, shuffle the cards, and ask students to put the cards in order.
2. This is a perfect book to go along with any science unit about the phases of the moon. This book does not explain why the phases occur–that would be your science lesson. It does go into how people used to use the new moon to begin a new month, so you can discuss with your students or your child how our calendar is based on the moon. Some calendars actually still record things about the moon on them–look for one of these in January when calendars are half-price. Then, you can show your students or your child more about the phases of the moon and the calendar being based on them.
3. Students can make a personal connection with this book even if they are not Muslim. Ask students to compare and contrast themselves and one of their important holiday celebrations with Yasmeen and her family’s celebration in the book. Older students can make their own Venn Diagrams. (Click here and scroll down the page to make a Venn Diagram worksheet on-line.) With younger students, you can make one together on chart paper, or they can make lists or draw pictures to show similarities and differences.
For more information about this book, check out The Night of the Moon website. If you have used this book in your classroom or with your own children, please leave a comment here and tell us how it went!
If you have a suggestion of a book for me to read and review, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment here.
photo by Rhys Jones Photography www.flickr.com