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We are just a few short days away from our second Multicultural Children’s Book Day. I’ve been matched with one of our Platinum Sponsors Daybreak Press and Global Bookstore and a really cleverly written book called Sophia’s Journey by Najiyah Diana Maxfield.
This book is for middle school and above readers.
Sophia’s Journal does a very fine job of weaving, yes… weaving… as in the weaving a story based on the parts of the past and the realities of modern day life. It all starts with a 21st century Muslim teenager, Sophia, who experiences a bad fall into a river. This dramatic tumble sends her back to the year 1857 and all the details and issues that are a part of that era. This beautifully written book looks at the idea of race, religion, and bigotry from a multi-century view. This enchanting story gives us a front row seat and a glimpse into pivotal moments of American history as well as what it’s like to be a practicing Muslim in the 21st century.
Sophia struggles to get used to new foods (and some times the lack of food) new entertainment such as knitting and a new family. Sophia also gets a first-hand view of slavery and the life of the Native Americans in the year 1857. The characters in the story are well developed and the sense of adventure and self discovery are greatly inspiring.
One of the things that really struck me as I read this book is that it dispels the “over there” mentally that we can so easily become a participant in. For example: “Muslims are those people ‘over there’…….” and the real life fact that they oftentimes viewed as the enemy. This myth is dispelled as author Najiyah Diana Maxfield intersperses the daily rhythms and gentle practices of the world’s Muslims into this thoughtful coming-of-age tale. This is later reflected when the slave William is also a Muslim from Africa.
In Sophia’s Journal, Sophia needs to deal with the ideas of slavery, slave owners and the abolition movement as well as the poor view and treatment of Native Americans. There is even a mention or two of the suffragette movement. We could so easily say, that happened “then” and doesn’t concern us “now.” Not so. These topics are still very much alive today and currently continue to unfold.
I greatly admire this book and recommend it. First because is gives a positive light to both teenagers and Muslims. Secondly because it is a well written story that is so captivating that I couldn’t put it down.
Something To Do
In the back of Sophia’s Journal are a couple of wonderful recipes as well as two glossaries. One for the 1850’s and the other of Arabic terms commonly used by Muslims around the world.
For our “Something to Do” we are going to create a Time Traveler’s Journal where we will write notes about our explorations into 1850’s Kansas as well as Islam.
Take a blank sheet or journal, pens, photos that you have printed off the computer and some glue and create a beautiful Common Book Journal about your journey into the world of Sophia.
A Look into Slavery
Slavery in America began in 1607 and continued until 1865. These links tell you more about this controversial but for a long time legal practice.
Here are some great book resources as well.
A Look at the Native Americans of Kansas
Kansas, a word readily recognizable as derived from the Native American tribal name Kansa, or “Wind People,” is a state possessing a rich Native American heritage.
The land we now call Kansas had been home to many Native American tribes. The Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kansa, Kiowa, Osage, Pawnee, and Wichita are tribes that are considered native to present day Kansas.
To learn more about the traditions of the Kansas Plains Native Americans I found Big Orrin’s website to have many facts geared towards children.
To learn more about these tribes and the history of the region please have a look here.
A Look into Prairie Life in Kansas
Here’s a good look at life on the Kansas prairie in 1850.
Want to know more about Sod Houses and how to build them ? Have a look here.
A fun reading history book list about the prairies.
A Look at Islam
Another way to meet your world is through literature. Multicultural Children’s Books Day is such a celebration which has created a vast resource of multicultural books and authors on our website.
My Gift to YOU!
Don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of my Read Your World Multicultural Booklists and Activities for Kids.