I recently had the pleasure of reading “Bismillah Soup” the first of two books to be released by emerging children’s author Asmaa Hussein of Ruqaya’s Bookshelf. Bismillah Soup is a book with many dimensions. It tells the tale of a young Somali boy named Hasan, who lives a humble life in a rural town. His family is struggling to put food on the table, so Hasan dotes an optimistic attitude and takes matters into his own hands! He promises his mom a fantastic dinner. Hasan can’t do it alone though, so he gets some much needed help from his local Imam and community members. Everyone chips in and contributes to what becomes a town feast. This book will have kids seeing the power of communal unity, giving and sharing, and having hope.
The story is based off of the classic folktale “Stone Soup” but it comes with a twist. If you’ve never heard of the term “Bismillah” before, that’s probably because it’s a term used in the Islamic faith, which roughly means: In the Name of God. Muslims often use this term to begin many of their tasks, which simply shows that they are being mindful. However, the beauty of this book is that you don’t need to be Muslim to read and enjoy it. The book is filled with lessons and inspirations for people of all faiths and backgrounds. Here are some lesson inspirations based on the book:
Urban vs. Rural Communities
“Bismillah Soup” takes place in a distinct rural setting. Based on the illustrations alone, it can help students to identify rural features such as spacious landscapes, homes that are far apart from other homes and farms to name a few. Here are some Urban vs. Rural lesson ideas to try based on the book:
Needs Vs. Wants
This story offers a somber reminder to students that not everyone lives the same privileged lives that many of us do. Hasan is a young boy compelled by the desire to provide his mom with a hearty meal, which is a luxury we too often overlook. This offers a great opportunity to discuss needs vs. wants as a social studies concept. Give this handout a try:
Another great thing about “Bismillah Soup” is that it’s filled with so many wonderful verbs. Hasan “crammed”, “bolted”, “burst”, “hurried”, and “greeted” his way through the story, amongst other great verbs. This is an awesome way to introduce verbs to your class, or you could use it as a diagnostic language assessment. Here are some verb activities to try: