This post is part of the World Cup for Kids project from Multicultural Kid Blogs. Each time Iran plays, I will be doing a post on some aspect of that country’s culture. Today I am sharing some children’s books to teach kids about this beautiful country!
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Some of you may wonder why I chose to blog about Iran for our World Cup for Kids project, but for me it was a natural choice. The Bahá’í Faith started in Persia (modern day Iran), and as a result, I grew up around many people from there. Though I only know a few words of Farsi, the sounds of that melodic language are nearly as familiar to me as my own. I was raised eating adas polow (although we just called it “Persian rice”); played with kids named Farzad, Nasim, and Nadia; and sat many a Sunday morning on a beautiful Persian carpet in someone’s home listening to the mournful sounds of prayers chanted in the Persian style.
To celebrate this beautiful country, here is a list of children’s books about Iran:
I just love Mystery Bottle by Kristen Balouch. It reminds me a bit of The Remembering Stone from our Costa Rica book list in that it is about a child’s magical journey back to the homeland of a parent, in this case his father. A grandfather, whom he has never met, sends the boy a mystery bottle, which releases a mighty wind that carries him across the ocean to his grandfather’s house. The illustrations, with their whimsical collages of maps and landmarks, are wonderful, as are the sweet scenes of a boy connecting with his long-lost grandfather.
The Earth Shook: A Persian Tale by Donna Jo Napoli is based on the 2003 earthquake in Bam. It is a magical tale of a girl orphaned by the quake, as she tries to find companionship in the animals that remain in her town. To be honest, I was a bit worried about whether this topic would be too scary for Monkey, but it is beautifully told and focuses more on exploring the idea of what makes us human. At first the girl tries to become like the animals she is trying to befriend, but after they reject her, she instead rejoices in her humanity – music, laughter, and generosity – and this, in the end, is what wins the animals over.
Ali and the Magic Stew by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim is a fantastic original tale set in long-ago Persia. It is a moral fable about humility and kindness. Ali ibn Ali is the spoiled son of a rich merchant, who must become a beggar in order to obtain the magic stew that will save his dying father. Being forced to suffer this way changes the way he treats others and helps him learn to become a true Muslim, who knows that “the gentle heart brings life and joy.”
Author Shirley has adapted a number of other global Cinderella tales. (Did you know that versions of the Cinderella tale can be found around the world?) The Persian Cinderella is a gorgeous retelling of the classic story of a beautiful, kind-hearted maiden tormented by her stepsisters. Kept from attending the royal New Year celebration (Naw Rúz), Settareh is aided by a mysterious blue jug that allows her to go to the party and win the heart of the prince. This beautiful tale with its lush illustrations captures wonderfully the beauty of Persia and its culture.