Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story

Lailah's Lunchbox Image

Reem Faruqi
Tilbury House Publishers

Grade Level: 3 – 4
Lexile: 700
Accelerated Reader: NP

Read Aloud | Children’s Choice 2016 | Diversity

International Literacy Association: Children’s Choices 2016 Reading List

Lailah’s Lunchbox is about a young girl named Lailah who moves to the United States from Abu Dhabi. When the Muslim holiday Ramadan begins, Lailah is excited because her parents have agreed that she is now old enough to fast with them. However, she is worried about what her teacher Mrs. Penworth and her elementary classmates will think when she does not eat her lunch with them for a month. Will they understand why she is not eating and fasting instead? With the help of her teacher and the school library, she learns that there are other students who are able to respect her beliefs.

Ramadan | Islam | Fasting | Religion | Acceptance

Suggested Delivery

Read Aloud

Key Vocabulary

  1. Atlas: a book of maps or charts
  2. Continent: any of the world’s main bodies of land such as Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America
  3. Fasting: staying away from either all or certain kinds of food and/or drink usually for a religious purpose
  4. Impress: to have an impact on someone
  5. Muslim: a follower of the religion of Islam
  6. Prayer: a formal request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship
  7. Ramadan: the ninth month of the Muslim year during which strict fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset
  8. Sunrise: initiates the start of fasting
  9. Sunset: initiates a break in fasting
  10. Volunteer: the action to freely offer to do something or a person who freely offers to take on a task

Building Background

Before, During, and After Reading Strategies

Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.
Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

Before Reading – What is Ramadan?

Before reading Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story, have a whole class discussion with the students about the Islamic tradition of Ramadan. Consider watching the YouTube video under “Building Background” for a child-friendly understanding of the religious tradition of Ramadan. Discuss the definition of fasting and it’s religious purpose to increase literal comprehension of the text.

During Reading – Questions

Ask questions to the students periodically during the reading of the text. Suggested questions include:  Why do you think Lailah isnt going to bring her lunchbox to school? Why did Mrs. Penworth ask if Lailah forgot her lunch? and What did the librarian tell Lailah to do to get her thoughts down?

After Reading – Adjective Soup

After reading Lailah’s Lunchbox, distribute a worksheet with a big empty soup pot similar to the one below. Instruct each student to write the title of the book above the pot and then choose five adjectives to describe the book or Lailah. After each student has selected their adjectives, divide the class into small groups and have each student take turns explaining why they chose those adjectives to the group.

Lailah's Lunchbox After Image

Writing Activity – Letter to the Teacher

Distribute lined paper to each student. Tell them to write a letter to Mrs. Penworth, Lailah’s teacher, as if they were Lailah explaining why she will not be bringing a lunch to school for the next month. Remind the students to reflect on the feelings Lailah must have felt. Once all the letters have been written, distribute envelopes for the children to seal their letters. Collect their letters in your “mailbox”.

Additional Resources