I’ve always loved to read. In fact, when I was in my penultimate year in high school, I was presented with an award in front of my peers and friends for reading the most books in the entire school – much to my teenage mortification. Now several years on, having worked with children in the education sector in various formats, I am keenly aware of the importance reading makes to a child’s development across all aspects. So when I became a parent, I knew I wanted to incorporate reading from as early as possible, even if he didn’t understand me yet. Being a Muslim parent, I was also on the search for suitable and stimulating reading material for my infant and it turned out to be harder than I thought at first.
Learning Roots is a well known and reputable publisher of Islamic children’s books and learning resources. I had seen their books in a few retailers before having my son and knew them to be popular amongst parents I was acquainted with. We now own a few books from them and I have known grown to love their books and our son is a fan too!
The Way to Jannah is the story of a mother and son’s journey up a snowy mountain and along the way, the young boy, Zayd poses a series of questions to his mother to find out what he should say if he wants to go to Jannah. As Zayd tries to answer the question himself, not quite getting it right, young readers benefit from hearing short Islamic dhikr and Duas such as ‘Alhamdulillah’ and ‘SubhanAllah’. The phrases are hidden under flaps which the reader lifts up to reveal, allowing the child to engage with curiosity. Even at 9 months, our little one has already realised that he can lift up the flap and gets very excited to do it, so I definitely agree that it engages children. We can sit and read the book a few times over and he is able to sit and listen to it happily for several minutes (before he inevitably gets distracted!).
The book is a board book and very durable for young hands. I can testify to that as my son has already ripped a few other books and covered them in a host of food stains and this one still looks pristine. It also contains very cute illustration in the unique Learning Roots style and the figures have no facial features.
Both myself and my husband found the book very touching the first time we read it. It has actually quite a few layers of meaning which adults can appreciate as well as children and I found it quite clever the way Zayd’s questions links together with the pictures and their journey up the mountain. The story has a repetitive structure which my young son quickly became familiar with and found soothing.
The style of the illustrations is definitely a winner for me, having dabbed in a little graphic design in my heyday. It is great to see Islamic children’s material that has good morals and messages but also looks appealing to children and is enjoyable to read. It might sound like a simple requirement for kids’ books, but there is still a big gap in the market. I will definitely be looking to purchase more books from Learning Roots in the future.