Book Review: Spell it like S-A-M-A-R

Author: Shifa Saltagi Safadi

Illustrator: Saliha Caliskan

Publisher: Ruqaya’s Bookshelf

Distributor: Anafiya Gifts 

Age Group: 4+


Samar has recently moved to America from Syria, and everything is new. Even the jump rope games at recess are unfamiliar. It doesn’t help that Jenna, the class bully, keeps making fun of Samar’s accent. Samar decides to enter the school spelling bee to prove once and for all that she’s smarter than everyone thinks! But learning the words turns out harder than she thought. Can Samar be persistent and compete in the school spell bee?

About Spell it Like Samar:

This beautifully illustrated book has a powerful story about overcoming adversity. Samar who is a young girl from Syria living in America is adapting to school life in a new country with a new language. When Samar is asked by her third-grade teacher Ms Bryan to spell the word PERSISTENT, she gets nervous and discouraged by the laughter from the class bully Jenna. In Syria, Samar was the best student in her class, but now she felt like the worst one. It didn’t help that she was teased by Jenna and didn’t want to join in with the playground games. But with the help of her friend Angela she had a plan to show Jenna how smart she really is once and for all. Can Samar overcome her fears and win against Jenna at the school’s Spelling Bee competition? Read this empowering book to find out how this story ends.

Themes in this book include:

  • Resilience and Perseverance
  • Self-esteem and Confidence
  • Bullying
  • Change
  • Language
  • Friendship
  • Achievement

What does this book teach children?

I love the message behind this book, it’s all about PERSEVERANCE. The story is centered around this word and not only teaches children the spelling of this big word but also the meaning and importance.

This book is a beautiful story of overcoming hardship and demonstrating resilience.

It teaches kids that no matter where they come from. As long as they try hard and believe in themselves they can achieve anything. I love that it shows the reader the dedication of the Syrian family, especially Samar’s highly educated mother. That while integrating into their new lives, they are still proud of their culture and identity.

In the current climate we are living in, we need more books that promote empathy and understanding of different cultures, religions, and backgrounds. This is a great book for Muslims and Non-Muslims alike.

About the author:

Shifa Saltagi Safadi is a Syrian-American whose childhood experiences in ESL inspired this story. She hoped that her writing will help Muslim children like her own three little ones be proud and confident. She also hopes to change the narrative around Muslims and Syrians, and show the beauty of both her religion and culture.

Where can you buy this book?

To get a copy of Spell it like S-A-M-A-R please visit where you can buy this book for £9.99.

Anafiya Gifts are an online Islamic gift store based in the UK, that specializes in children’s gifts and toys. You can also buy an extensive range of Islamic books for children and adults as well as Eid and home decor. They ship worldwide and have amazing products for any occasion. 

I personally love their selection of kids’ books and there are always new books to choose from. 

In my opinion, you can never have too many books and each story teaches kids something that they’ll take with them.

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