Today is one of the most popular Muslim celebrations around the world: Eid-al-Adha is a day of remembrance that commemorates Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim)’s willingness to obey God and sacrifice his son, Ishmael. When God saw Abraham’s compliance he provided a sacrificial sheep and spared Ishmael. Eid-al-Adha is known as the festival of sacrifice, and many Muslims sacrifice their best animal to eat on this day.
Here’s the perfect children’s book to learn about this holiday, with pre-reading activities.
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In the children’s book The Best Eid Ever, by Asma Mobin-Uddin, a little girl named Aneesha gets ready for the holiday with her grandma. Her grandma surprises her with new clothes and jewelry, and her favorite curry dish because she knows that Aneesha misses her parents, who are in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage. While at the prayer hall, she meets some other girls who are refugees, and whose father is working long hours to take care of them. Aneesha knows what she must do. Her generous and selfless gift to the girls sends a message that will warm your heart, and resonate across cultures of the joy of giving to others in need.
How can we talk to our kids about a holiday that they do no celebrate? Why is it important to teach them holidays from other religions?
The love of parties and festivities is universal: around the world, in every culture people like to celebrate. Participating in a cultural or religious holiday that is not your own does not mean that you are going to convert, and it doesn’t need to feel intimidating. If a group in your community is having a celebration and it is open to the public, or if your friends or neighbors invite you to a holiday party, embrace this new experience as a chance to have fun and learn about how another cultural or religious group celebrates. Observe the clothes, listen to the music, taste the new food, and get excited about participating. Kids will mimic the feelings they detect from their parents and teachers. If you are teaching your children or students about a new holiday that you are not completely familiar with, invite someone from a community organization to come and speak to them. The more that children are exposed to different cultures in a positive way, the more likely they will show acceptance of people from around the world.
Before reading “The Best Eid Ever,” explain a little about the holiday of Eid. Your children might have a vague understanding that there are many religions in the world, and each have their own holidays and celebrations. This religious holiday is celebrated by people who are Muslim. Some countries that celebrate Eid are: United Arab Emirates, India, Iran, Malaysia, Philippines, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia. It is also celebrated by groups of people in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US.
After you locate some of the countries on a map, ask your children to brainstorm about their favorite holidays.
- What makes the celebration special?
- Do they attend a religious service that day?
- Do they wear nice clothes?
- Are there certain foods they associate with the day?
- Do they get to see their grandparents and play with their cousins?
- Do they get presents on that day?
Give the children a background of how Eid is celebrated around the world. This pre-reading activity will help your children better comprehend the story. People who celebrate Eid-al-Adha start the day by dressing in their nicest clothes, and attending a prayer and sermon with others to thank Allah (God) for his goodwill. On this day Muslims remembering the deceased by praying for their souls to rest in peace, and show compassion to the needy and vulnerable in society with donations of food. Next, families and friends visit each others’ homes for festive meals with special dishes, beverages, and desserts. Children receive gifts and sweets on this happy occasion, and make hand-made Eid-al–Adha cards to give to their loved ones. Some popular gifts include flowers, sweets, dried fruit, clothes or accessories.
Once the children have discussed how they celebrate their important holidays, have located the places in the world that people celebrate Eid, and have listened to the background information of how it is celebrated, then it is time to read the story.