"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

ReedALOUD: Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets

I cannot wait to share Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets: A Muslim Book of Shapes with my students. I already know that they want to read it because it's been on my book bench in the library waiting for me to find time to write a lesson plan. Countless students have walked over to the checkout desk with the book in their hands, only for me to inform them that it is not yet in circulation, but reassuring them that it will be soon. Readers are drawn to this book.
This lush and lyrical exploration of shapes in the Muslim world almost demands to be read aloud. How can one not share such a beautiful book?
Hena Khan's engaging and rhythmic text flows smoothly as it introduces readers to elements of Islamic culture through shapes and geometry. 
A glossary at the back defines terms within the book along with helping readers know the correct pronunciation of those terms. 

Lush, saturated, intricate, rich, gorgeous are all words I want to use to describe the art. Mehrdokht Amini's art is something to savor. 
Richly textured textiles and radiant faces are often collaged over images of actual tile work, which in itself is gorgeous. Each spread depicts not only the shape and elements of the Islamic world related to that shape, but also sets that information in a different country. We see the diversity of Muslim families from all over the world.
I am not usually one for stories like the one I am about to share, but it shows, once again, the importance of having a library collection that provides both windows and mirrors for all students. As you are already aware, Crescent Moons and Minarets was on my bench at school. A student, who is Muslim, picked it up and started to read it. I noticed him and from a distance watched as a smile formed at the ends of his mouth and grew into a full dimple explosion. I went over and asked him about the book. His shinning eyes were all I needed for an answer. We then sat down together and he explained different parts of the book and pronounced all the Muslim words I was unsure of (there is that glossary at the back, but this was much more fun). He even translated some of the Arabic in the art. 
Other students began joining in the discussion and asked questions. The second grader took on the role of teacher with ease, sharing his world with his classmates. 

Good books expand readers' worlds; great books not only do that, they start conversations. This is what we should be sharing with our children and students, books that take the personal and make it universal (or vice versa). When this happens, readers see the interconnectedness of life on this planet. Not all children belong to a religious community, but if they do, they will find similarities and differences with this book. It is through knowing that understanding develops. Crescent Moons and Pointed Minarets allows for this to happen.

This stunningly-illustrated and beautifully-written book should be on your shelf. Keep an eye out for it. It publishes April 10th.

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