This week I had the pleasure of sharing an amazing story, Amira’s Picture Day by Reem Faruqi, with a family of 6 from my school. The students range in ages from 2-12 years old. Each child enjoyed the book and interacted in their own way. I was reminded of the importance of sharing books with a wide variety of backgrounds so that different cultural experiences become the norm rather than a stand-alone multicultural lesson. The children saw right to Amira’s heart, connected with the problem she was having and pinpointed the themes in the story.
This beautiful story begins as Ramadan has come to an end and Amira and her brother are looking forward to celebrating Eid. Unfortunately, the following day is also picture day for our second grader. Amira is conflicted as she thinks about the joy of celebrating Eid and the disappointment of not being in her class picture. Fear not, our clever main character perseveres with a wonderful solution.
The language in this text is perfect for discussing feelings. When Amira sees the picture day flyer on the fridge, “Her cheeks felt hot. Her insides felt cold.” Later in the story, when Amira thinks she has missed picture day she describes feeling like one of the balloons that have fallen to the floor. My students described ways the author and illustrator showed the reader how Amira felt sad in certain places but also positive in others. The students went on to describe how they too feel happy at some times and sad at other times.
Vibrant, colorful illustrations engage the reader. Colors literally pop off the page. Included are amazing mehndi designs. The younger students I shared the book with loved touching the pages as they enjoyed what was included in the Eid celebration. The older students connected with Amira and verbalized kindness and friendship as possible themes in the story.
Lots of possibilities for using this text with kids. Perfect for a focus on celebrations, beginning of the school year, as well as all of our need to be seen. I was given the following advice from a 4th grader: “Do not give up hope as we might be able to do it all, just like Amira!”