A University of South Wales (USW) lecturer has published a book to help children in the Muslim community learn about Ramadan, which takes place from 2 April – 1 May.
Dr Wendy Booth, who teaches on the MSc Leadership in Healthcare, wrote Ramadan in Space to encourage Muslim children to be proud of their identity, and as a fun way of remembering to pray.
She said: “The book is based on an idea by Alex Fell, who works at My Salah Mat, the publisher. He came up with the idea after reading about the first Muslim astronaut in space, and seeing pictures of him praying while in-flight.
“I’ve added educational content to the book, such as an acronym to remember the names of the planets, and we have an amazing illustrator in Hani Hanifah Ishwari. The feedback from children and parents has been great, especially comments that it has inspired some children to write their own stories and aspire to be authors themselves.”
Some mainstream schools have already purchased the book to use in lessons, and Wendy has been invited to do a reading at a Cardiff primary school next term. Her next book, which has just been published, is called Hajj with Emperor Mansa Musa, and is particularly relevant due to the Welsh Government making Black, Asian and minority ethnic histories compulsory in the school curriculum from September this year.
Wendy is looking forward to celebrating Ramadan differently this year, as Muslims are now able to enjoy communal meals for the first time since the pandemic.
She said: “Ramadan was strange during the pandemic, as it is usually a time of sharing and getting together to break the fast, as well as communal prayers in the mosque, but the much-needed lockdown measures prevented this.
“Also, a lot of people in the Muslim community lost loved ones, including those working on the frontline, such as within the NHS, and so they will be remembered. Even so, everyone is glad to be getting back to some kind of normality this year, and I am really looking forward to spending time with friends. Eid will also be really special this year, and there is already an air of excitement around.”
Wendy is also a Research Fellow for Co-POWeR, a UKRI funded project which is a consortium across nine universities in the UK, looking at the impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities.
The focus of her PhD research was tolerance and ethnocultural empathy, and she designed a set of resources for the citizenship curriculum in high schools. Wendy is now collaborating with her colleague, Katie Brown, to create school resources for sustainable development.
She added: “The main themes running through my books, work and research are sustainability, inequalities and anti-racism, and I hope that the work being done in this area, along with the lessons from the pandemic, will lead to policies and attitudes that encourage community cohesion and support those who are struggling with poverty and mental health issues – the idea of building back better.”