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Family and Friends Welcome!

In My Mosque written by M. O. Yuksel and illustrated by Hatem Aly, published by HarperCollins Publishing.

In opening this colorful picture book, the reader is immediately greeted by brilliant doves and two characters: "You are welcome here!" That tone continues throughout the narrative and is enhanced by Hatem Aly's illustrations of diverse children and adults.

As I read each page, I couldn't help but think how similarly they could be describing the church in which I grew up... a place where friends and family embrace, hear stories to encourage us all to live in harmony, gather donations for the needy... and I'm sure many children can relate to the page that says, "I try to pay attention, although sometimes I get distracted." What an adorable illustration of a row of adults bowed in prayer and one little girl looking around!

M. O. Yuksel's lyrical and rhythmic language celebrates the traditions found in mosques and in practicing Islam. The beauty of it all underscores how similar these traditions are to other religious practices. Before I even reached the last spread, I was thinking the same thing, "[...], we pray for peace, love, and joy... just like my friends who worship in churches, temples, and synagogues."

The backmatter includes more information about mosques, a glossary, an author's note, and a list of noteworthy mosques around the world. What I appreciated in the glossary was reading how many phrases are the same repeated in other places of worship as well, just in a different language: Allah Akbar/God is the greatest; As-salaamu alaykum/Peace be upon you; Subhanallah/Glory be to God.

Imagine it!

Do you have a special place that makes you feel loved and safe? It could be a place of worship, a community center, a school, a relative's house, or a neighbor's yard, anywhere can work.

Imagine all the feelings you feel when you walk through the door or gate.

Imagine all the fun things you like to do there.

Imagine sharing your special place with someone who has never been there.

Just like the author, M. O. Yuksel, starts with the title and repeats throughout the book, "In my mosque...," replace that word (or keep it if you share that special place, too) with the one you chose: "In my..."

Write a story or draw pictures, or both, showing all the ways your special place welcomes you and can welcome others, too.

You could also create a song with the refrain, "In my..."

Imagine how beautiful that can look, sound, and feel!

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