New book ‘The Night Before Eid’ celebrates intergenerational Egyptian American holiday

The author says she was inspired to write the book when she didn’t find many representative stories about Ramadan or Eid.

Aya Khalil

This weekend, Muslims are celebrating Eid Al-Fitr, the celebration of breaking the month-long fast.

Aya Khalil is an educator and the author of “The Night Before Eid,” a children’s book about an Egyptian Muslim family preparing cookies for an Eid celebration. Khalil says she wrote the book during the pandemic while looking for a way to destress from staying home with her kids who were doing virtual learning.

“I would just sit and write like ‘what do I need now?’ I need more love and happiness and just love and joy,” Khalil says.

Khalil was born in Egypt and moved to the U.S. with her family when she was just a 1-year-old. She currently lives in Ohio with her family.

She says “The Night Before Eid” is a family story.

“I like to call it a big hug that we all missed during COVID because it is an intergenerational family story about Teita, grandma, coming from Egypt,” Khalil explains. And she’s teaching Zain, the grandson, how to make famous Egyptian aid cookies called ka’ak.”

The traditional small cookies are made for Egyptian holidays, including Eid al-Fitr, which follows Ramadan. They are decorated with geometric spaces and filled with dates, ghee, and honey — then sprinkled with powdered sugar.

“It’s just filled with traditions and love and some history and of course like things that we like to do in Ramadan, like sharing cookies with friends and family and just being together during that holiday season and celebration.”

Photos of ancient pyramids in Egypt.

Ka’ak is a cookie that’s been around since ancient Egyptians — the recipe can even be found in some tombstone inscriptions.

“There’s different versions of them throughout like the Muslim and Arab world,” Khalil says. “They can be called Maamoul. There’s so many different variations and it’s pretty popular.”

Khalil was inspired to write the story when she didn’t find many representative stories about Ramadan or Eid as a teacher or parent.

“I would be invited to speak to my kids classrooms and talk about Eid and Ramadan and there’s barely any [books] out there,” Khalil shares.

The author wants to have a fun and cute story that’s accessible in libraries.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by KANDEELY (@shopkandeely)

“I really never saw fun Muslim characters…whether it was TV, or books or even advertisements, there was just no Muslim representation. And I really longed for that growing up.”

“The Night Before Eid” is available online and in Target stores.

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »


  • Nargis Rahman
    Nargis Hakim Rahman is the Civic Reporter at 101.9 WDET. Rahman graduated from Wayne State University, where she was a part of the Journalism Institute of Media Diversity.