Last week, I went to a Sufi (a sect of Islam) whirling ritual for my Iranian cinema class. Know the term whirling dervishes? Yep, I did that (minus the really sweet skirts)! It was completely outside the range of anything I had ever seen or experienced, as it was the first time I had ever been to a worship service outside of the Christian faith.
I was completely struck by the conclusion that no matter how foreign the traditions are, the act of prayer is still the same in any culture. The prayers, minus the Arabic, sounded so familiar that I could have been with someone close to me, in a place where I felt comfortable (like Camp Calumet!). The evening completely reinforced my personal belief that, no matter what faith you practice, all religions are just many paths to the same big guy upstairs.
This got me to wondering (of course)… what is their children’s lit like? I found a great research project in Iran devoted to just this topic. WIth such a rich artistic and poetic culture, it’s no surprise that there is much Persian literature relating to children.
Then, I found an INCREDIBLE site (thanks to this blog!), called the International Digital Children’s Library, where you can read entire books – and their illustrations – from ANY country in the world! BLEW MY MIND. I could go into this for hours, but here’s just a few Persian/Farsi books (pictured above), whose drawings I LOVED:
Classic: Book of Anecdotes by Hosayn Mo’llem, illustrated by Bahram Khaef. A Collection of Persian classic short stories, with an admonition or moral.
Modern: For You by Farideh Khalatbaree, illustrated by Valeria Valenza. A little girl watched a film that took the actors to the past, so she and her brother make a wish on a lamp to do the same.
There are plenty of other materials for Iranian and Islamic kids, too! Here are a few great resources I found…