Project Description


The Garden of My Imaan

by Farhana Zia

It’s hard enough to fit in without also having to decide whether to fast for Ramadan and wear the hijab.

Aliya already struggles with trying to fit in, feeling confident enough to talk to the cute boy, or brave enough to stand up to mean kids―the fact that she’s Muslim is just another part of her life. But then Marwa, a Moroccan girl who shares Aliya’s faith, if not her culture, moves to town. Marwa’s quiet confidence leads Aliya to wonder even more about who she is, what she believes, and where she fits in. In a series of letters to Allah she writes for a Sunday school project, Aliya explores her dreams and fears, hoping that with hard work and faith, something beautiful will grow in the garden of imaan―the small quiet place inside where belief unfolds, one petal at a time.

This award-winning novel from author and educator Farhana Zia captures the social and identity struggles of middle school with a fresh, new voice.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-698-7
Publication Date: 4/1/2013
Page Count: 192
Size: 6″ x 8-1/2″
Age Range: 8 – 12
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Price: $8.99
ISBN: 978-1-56145-921-6
Publication Date: 3/1/2016
Page Count: 192
Size: 6″ x 8-1/2″
Age Range: 8 – 12
Language: English
Format: eBook
ISBN: 978-1-56145-973-5
Age Range: 8 – 12
Language: English

Purchase this eBook through the following vendors:

Barnes & Noble

AR Level: 3.6
GRL: V, Gr 5
Lexile: 550L
Themes: Faith, Indian Culture, Islam, Peer Pressure, Popularity
BISAC 1: JUV033030 JUVENILE FICTION / Religious / Other
BISAC 2: JUV039020 JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues / Adolescence
BISAC 3: JUV014000 JUVENILE FICTION / Girls & Women


“Zia (Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-Ji) has deep insight into adolescent Muslim life and capably handles diversity within American Islam.” ―Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“The novel is at its best when depicting Aliya’s interactions with her grandmother and great-grandmother as well as comic incidents such as a halal turkey mix-up at Thanksgiving dinner. This would be a good addition for libraries serving Muslim populations; it also might be of interest to non-Muslim readers wanting to find out more about the religion’s everyday life and practices.” ―School Library Journal

“Zia’s gentle message—that Muslims come from many cultures whose observances differ, while the long shadow of 9/11 hovers over all—is timely and beautifully conveyed.” ―Kirkus Reviews

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“The complexities of race relations are also delicately handled: Aliya faces some clearly racist attacks when she is called a terrorist, but the author also includes instances of well-intentioned people saying the wrong, and often ignorant, thing… The bones here are comfortably familiar, adding to the resonance of this accessible story about fitting in [with]in a global world.” ―Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Author Farhana Zia creates a nice balance of universality and more culturally specific issues, opening a door into a world that is less familiar to many Americans… This is a relatable book well suited to starting dialogue between Middle Eastern and Western readers.” ―Parents’ Choice

“A thoughtful coming-of-age story.” ―Bristol Herald Courier

“I’m always on the lookout for books that show different faiths in the lives of contemporary kids without being didactic, and this one fits the bill just right.” ―Confessions of a Bibliovore

“I really enjoyed reading this book, especially because it’s written from a young girl’s perspective and I love the way children see the world… I think it’s terribly important that children read books like this one, because if we want to create a respectful and understanding generation we need to start teaching them at an early age.” ―Eat, Read, Explore

“The author gives us a look into the culture and growth of a young girl as she approaches womanhood… I highly recommend this book.” ―It’s About Time, MaMaw

“This book would be an AWESOME novel-study for middle schoolers. The strong culture and Muslim religion portrayed throughout the book can lead students to discussions, inquiry, research and much more. This is no doubt a great novel to learn about a different culture, the hurt of prejudices, and to expand upon a culture that students may be wary of.” ―Novel Nutritious

“The book is full of delightful, well-rounded characters from across the generations; and it probes readers to think about religious observances, both private and public, without restricting them to a specific set of answers.” ―Paper Tigers



Parents’ Choice Recommended Award ―Parents’ Choice Foundation, 2013

Best Children’s Books of the Year ―Bank Street College of Education, 2014

Social Justice Literature Award ―Literacy and Social Justice Special Interest Group, International Reading Association, 2014

South Asia Book Award (Honor Book) ―South Asia National Outreach Consortium, 2014

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Society of School Librarians International Book Awards (Honor Book, Language Arts Grades K-6 Novels) ―Society of School Librarians International, 2013

Kansas State Reading Circle Recommended Reading List (Intermediate) ―Kansas National Education Association, 2014


Meet the Author

Farhana Zia

Farhana Zia spent her early years in Hyderabad, India. A retired elementary school teacher, her stories blend humor and tradition, memories and contemporary moments. She is the author of the novels The Garden of My Imaan and Child of Spring and the picture books Hot Hot Roti for Dada-ji and Lali’s Feather. She lives in Massachusetts and enjoys reading, writing and making French macarons.