Back to the list

Illustrated Afghanistan

Book: The Boy Without a Name by Idries Shah 

Ages: 6+ 

Relationship to country: A Sufi story retold by Idries Shah, illustrator Mona Caron says the beautiful illustrations were inspired by old photographs of Afghanistan  

Book in a nutshell: A story with beautiful pictures about a boy who finally gets a name  


I got lucky because when I told my grandma that I was reading books about Afghanistan, she already had a children's book from Afghanistan on her shelf, The Boy Without a Name by Idries Shah. This book is a picture book and kind of a folktale, so littler kids might like it, too. 

In this book, a little boy is born, and a wise man tells the boy's parents not to give him a name because he will be very,very special. So his parents called him Benaam, which means Nameless. At first, I wasn't sure about this book because I was expecting it to be a folktale, and folktales usually have a moral. I did not think that this book had a specific moral of the story. Mom thought that the moral was 'that you appreciate things more if you have to wait for them.'

But, I read the book a few times more with my mom and my sisters. The illustrations are colorful and beautiful, and I love the way that the illustrator drew the dreams floating into the boys' heads. I think the clothes are interesting and very pretty. The book made me think about why people have the names that they do, and why it was so important to Benaam to have his own name. What I think is that your name is special not because of the letters in it but because you make it special by being yourself. So maybe that's not a moral of the story, but it is something that you can think about when you read this book.