Over the last few weeks Kube has been thinking about how we will use Ramadan to read more in order to enhance our understanding and experience of this holy month. Books are also a great way of introducing Ramadan to your children, as they provide the perfect platform for shared discussion and contemplation in an enjoyable and engaging way.
As part of our Read in Ramadan campaign, we have asked some of our authors to discuss how they have used books to inspire themselves and others. We spoke to author Sana Munshey about writing, reading and inspiring children to do the same!
Kube: We have been thinking about ways we can encourage others to read more and, in particular, how to inspire a younger generation to engage with books. As an author, do you feel this is part of your own thinking when it comes to writing for children?
Sana Munshey: Yes, definitely! We live in a world where children are presented with too many distractions. It is easier to get a child to busy themselves with electronic devices than it is to get them to read chapter books. Their attention span needs attention; if a book does not catch and keep their interest from the beginning, children are likely to leave it altogether.
This is especially true with Islamic books. Children are likely to choose other books over the available Islamic literature, because it simply does not keep their attention. Over the past few years, however, many new exciting titles have emerged in the world of Islamic Books for the youth. The key, I believe, is to portray Islamic values for children so that they can relate them back to their own lives.
K: In We’re Off to Make ‘Umrah, you take the reader on a journey to Makkah when perhaps they will not experience this themselves for many years. Were you conscious of this when writing the book?
SM: Yes. I think picture books are a good way to introduce children to a reality they will later come to know, inshAllah. Nurturing the love of the Ka’bah, I feel, is especially important for the hearts of young believers. Located in Makkah, the birthplace of the Prophet (S), the Ka’bah is not only important because we make Umrah and Hajj there. Rather, it is the symbol of Islamic unity, the direction of the prayer for Muslims all over the world. It also connects the Muslim nation with the Prophet Abraham (PBUH), as it was he and his son, Ismail, who built the Ka’bah much before the coming of Muhammad (S). Thus, the Ka’bah stands in history as the very first house of worship built on Earth.
K: What inspires you to read, and how have you been encouraged to read (particularly when you were younger) in the past?
SM: I have always followed my interests! If I like a subject matter, I seek to read more about it. Similarly, I try to read to my children according to their interests. That way I know their minds will be engaged. They will not be passive listeners, rather, in my experience, they listen with intent, ask very intelligent questions, and keep asking for more.
K: As an author and a mother, what advice would you give other parents who would like to encourage their children to read more?
SM: It’s not always easy to get a child to become a reader. Some children have a natural liking to read; others may go through a “I hate reading” phase; they may find it difficult to read, or may need to find the kinds of books that interest them. It’s a struggle sometimes to find what works best for the child’s individual needs. My suggestion would be to continue to offer different genres, authors, and styles of writing; sooner or later something will click. It’s important not to be too pushy. Every child is different and may require a different approach. As parents we have to remind them the importance of reading. For Muslims the importance of reading originates from revelation. The first word of the Quran revealed upon our Prophet (S) was: “Read!”
K: Thank you for talking to us, Sana.
SM: Thank you!
Sana Munshey is the author of We’re Off to Make ‘Umrah, available from Kube.
Her new title We’re Off to Pray is an upcoming release from Kube.
We’re Off to Make ‘Umrah