Aug 252016
 August 25, 2016  Book Reviews, raising world citizens

Teaching kids about mindfulness is an incredibly powerful way to help kids ground themselves and seek a calm center no matter what is going on around them. We often associate mindfulness with breathing exercises and focused movement like yoga, but thoughtful actions done as part of the creative process also help to center and focus. Practicing Arabic calligraphy is not only great for those fine motor skills, it is a way for children to express themselves artistically through mindful practice.

Mindfulness for Kids: Learning about Arabic Calligraphy |

Mindfulness for Kids: Learning about Arabic Calligraphy

The Middle East — and Iraq in particular — is not an area that most of us associated with peace and calm, but today I want to share a lovely book that helps us look beyond the headlines to explore the long and rich history of this region and what it can offer our children in terms of learning mindfulness.

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Mindfulness for Kids - Silent Music

This month as part of the Global Learning Series we are exploring Iraq. For the most part, if you look for a children’s book on Iraq, you are bound to find the typical non-fiction country studies, or fiction books about war and its after effects.

At first glance, Silent Music: A Story of BaghdadMindfulness for Kids - Arabic Calligraphy seems to be more of the same, but with a difference – the young boy in the book, Ali, teaches us about the history of Arabic calligraphy and Yaqut (or Yakut), one of the most famous calligraphers associated with Iraq.

Qur'an by the Scribe Yaqut al-Musta'simi

Qur’an by Yaqut al-Musta’simi –, Public Domain


If at first the history of Arabic calligraphy seems irrelevant to the tragic circumstances in Iraq today, the young narrator invites us to look deeper to see the parallels between past and present and how calligraphy can be a bridge between them, helping children to rise above their chaotic surroundings.

According to legend, during the Mongol sack of Baghdad 800 years ago, Yaqut locked himself in a high tower (the minaret of a mosque) and practiced calligraphy. As horror filled the city around him, Yaqut created beauty. Centuries later, Ali, drawing inspiration from this story, takes refuge in his calligraphy during the terrifying nights of the war in Iraq. In the midst of war, Ali creates peace and beauty.


By Calligrapher: The famous 13th-century calligrapher Yaqut al-Musta’simi (d. 696/1296) – This calligraphic fragment is available from the United States Library of Congress’s African & Middle Eastern division under the digital ID ascs.004.

To introduce your children to Arabic calligraphy, you can watch this lovely demonstration or read this overview, which includes wonderful samples of Arabic calligraphy throughout history. You can also try this great, kid-friendly craft. We gave it a try last year when we were doing a unit study on Lebanon:

This article is great for introduction kids to calligraphy (not specifically Arabic calligraphy), including suggested supplies.

Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to the second annual Middle Eastern and North African Heritage Month series from Multicultural Kid Blogs! Follow along all month long for great resources on teaching children about the heritage of this region, and link up your own posts below. You can also find even more resources on our North Africa and the Middle East Pinterest board:

August 8
A Crafty Arab on Multicultural Kid BlogsAugust 12
Tara’s Multicultural Table on Multicultural Kid Blogs

August 15
Crafty Moms Share

August 17
A Crafty Arab

August 22
All Done Monkey

Link Up Your Posts!


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