Something To Do

Middle Eastern & North African Heritage Month-Sophia’s Journal

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This week marked the kick off the Middle Eastern & North African Heritage month over at Multicultural Kid Blogs​. If you have a moment, swing by to see my intro post and review of some of the giveaway books from Wisdom Tales Press​ & Tuttle Publishing​.
Over the years I have written numerous blog posts at JIAB about all of the wonderful Middle Eastern books available to families. But one in particular I would like to revisit.

Daybreak Press and Global Bookstore  was one of our Platinum Sponsors and this fine organization offered up a really cleverly written book called Sophia’s Journey by Najiyah Diana Maxfield.

Daybreak Press

Daybreak Press was established in 2014 and is the publishing arm of Rabata, an international organization dedicated to promoting positive cultural change and the revival of the female voice in scholarship.
Daybreak Press Global Bookshop and Gathering Space in St Paul, Minnesota is designed to further this message by providing a unique variety of titles that promote the exploration and understanding of issues from across the world, from social justice, to women’s issues, to spirituality and religion, through fiction and non-fiction publications, and to provide a safe and comfortable space for people to do so.

Sophia’s Journal is for middle school and above readers.

“Her cell phone is dead and she has no idea where she is. After a bad fall in the river, 16 year-old Sophia suddenly finds herself in nineteenth century Kansas. She struggles to adjust to new food, new entertainment and a new family. She is still a twenty-first century Muslim girl, though, so slavery is intolerable and the way Native Americans are treated is unacceptable. Sophia copes the best she can as she tries to understand how she got there, how she can help those she’s met, and if she will ever get back.Sophia’s Journal is a fresh take on a pivotal moment in American history. Filled with adventure, romance and self-discovery, it offers a glimpse into a world half-forgotten, from a vantage point like no other.”-Sophia’s Journal


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

Islam is a world religion practiced by 1.7 billion people. PBS has put together this fact sheet about muslims and the religion of Islam and here’s another look from CNN.


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.

Multicultural Children Book Resources


End of Summer Audrey Press Book Sale!!

Summer is slowly winding down and thoughts are turning to the upcoming school year and reads that will take us into (and through) the colder months ahead. Instead of being sad to see summer go, I choose to Celebrate! And what better way to do it than with an End of Summer Audrey Press Book Sale. For two weeks only readers can get a great deal on two of my most popular books. But don’t delay; this super special sale ends August 14, 2015!

book sale

First up The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook: The Simple Step-by-Step guide to creating a Waldorf-inspired #homeschool. And for a limited time, this best-selling book by Donna Ashton, The Waldorf #Homeschool Handbook is now only $17.95 until August 14th, 2015 !

Enjoy more month-by-month activities based on the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. AND, it’s on sale until August 14th ! Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!”

Two great children’s books-Your choice, $17.95 each!