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Diverse Books For All Ages

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Exploring Culture: Children's Books for Arab American Heritage Month and Beyond

Updated: Jun 13


April ushers in Arab American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate Arab American culture, history, and identity. One of the most engaging and accessible ways to explore cultures is through children's literature.


In this blog post, we'll delve into children's books that not only highlight Arab American heritage but also serve as invaluable tools for promoting cultural understanding and appreciation. From captivating stories of family dynamics to insightful narratives about identity and belonging, these books offer a window into the diverse experiences of Arab American children and families, making them essential additions to any library, not just for this month but for the whole year and beyond.


For your convenience, we've included publisher's descriptions along with each book.

Celebrate the beauty and diversity of life in the Arab diaspora throughout the year.


Wrapping grape leaves, playing doumbek, drawing henna tattoos,

we're Arab, Arab, Arab, the whole year through!


Yallah! From January to December, join some busy kids as they partake in traditions old and new. There's so much to do, whether it's learning to write Arabic or looking at hijab fashion sites while planning costumes for a local comic convention. With details as vivid as the scent of jasmine and honeysuckle perfume (made to remind Mom of Morocco), children bond with friends, honor tradition, and spend loving time with family. Accompanied by buoyant and charming illustrations, this portrait of Arab life and childhood zeal is sure to bring joy all year round. Back matter includes an extensive glossary and notes to enrich the experience for readers of any culture.



A lyrical narrative of a Palestinian family in exile explores universal bonds of family, loyalty, and friendship through the lens of eleven Arabic expressions for love.


A family has fled their homeland in search of safety in another country, carrying a single suitcase. As their journey unfolds, the oldest child reflects on the special contents of that suitcase: photo albums that evoke eleven of many names for love in Arabic. From sunshine-warm friendship to the love that dissolves all tears; from the love that makes you swoon to the love that leaves you yearning for the heart's homeland--her family has experienced it all. Illustrated in vibrant watercolor pencil and collage on textured card stock, this moving scrapbook shows a family embracing an unknown future even as they honor the past, casting immigration and the refugee experience in the light of universal human connection.



A rich, beautifully layered ode to the great city of Cairo, Egypt, its people, and culture.


Each night, a young girl's Auntie Fatma puts her to bed, singing a lullaby filled with rich imagery of her home in Egypt. As Auntie Fatma sings, we are given a glimpse of modern Cairo, from boats making their way down the Nile to gentle calls to prayer from the mosques to young children joyfully playing soccer in the streets.


Join Zeena Pliska and Hatem Aly on a vibrant journey to Cairo in this gorgeous, layered song.



A universal story about courage and determination that is loosely based on the life of five-time Emirati National Champion, Zahra Lari, who was the first figure skater to compete internationally in a hijab.


After watching an ice-skating movie, young Zahra sets her mind to learn how to ice skate even though her family and friends doubt her abilities. After all, she's too old to learn, the rink is too cold, and figure skaters don't look like her... not yet at least! Illustrated with Sara Alfageeh's energetic lines and colors that pop right off the page, we follow Zahra's story as she glides across the floors of her house in her socks all the way to the ice rink... and as she repeatedly says ''not yet'' to naysayers -- including herself -- who try to convince her to stop pursuing her dream. An inspiring tale of self-empowerment and perseverance as we see the refrain -- not yet -- grow from a low, meek mumble to a mantra and promise filled with determination.



Growing up in Damascus, the pool was Yusra Mardini's happy place. She learned to swim before she could walk. And with swimming came a dream--to compete in the Olympic games.


But when war came to Syria, Yusra's home--and her pool--were no longer safe. Yusra and her sister set out on a harrowing journey, crossing the sea in search of safety.


In the inspirational tale that follows, Yusra's courageous spirit shines. Crammed on a too-small refugee boat, disaster strikes when the boat's motor breaks! Scared but determined, Yusra plunges into the water and starts swimming.


Infused with hope, Yusra's story encourages readers to pursue their own dreams, revealing how she met waves of danger with strength and perseverance.One breath at a time.


Readers will dive into this courageous tale of an athlete, refugee, and hero who inspired the world with her resolve to pursue her Olympic dream.



An entertaining, multifaceted, and delicious way to explore Arab culture. This charming, whimsical, and beautifully illustrated literary cookbook will capture children's fancy and will be enjoyed by the whole family.


Arab Fairy Tale Feasts is the latest title in the highly-praised Fairy Tale Feasts Collection, a creative series that folds enchanting folk tales into cookbooks of kid-friendly recipes.


Award-winning writer and storyteller, Karim Alrawi, draws on his deep knowledge of Arab culture to create original stories that are a feast for young imaginations. Told with intriguing details, the tales take young readers on a delicious cultural journey and invite them to consider an Arab perspective. Each tale symbolically incorporates food and concludes with a traditional recipe, lovingly flavored with colorful folkloric illustrations, making this a literary banquet to savor with family and friends across generations time and again.


This charming, whimsical, and beautifully illustrated book will capture children's fancy and will be enjoyed by the whole family.



It's alphabet rhyme time in this illustrated introduction to Arabic language and culture!


A perfect read-aloud bedtime book and the ideal accompaniment to guide emerging readers, My First Book of Arabic Words introduces children to the basic words and simple vocabulary of Arabic through colorful rhymes and beautiful imagery. The ABCs of Arabic life are charmingly captured in Chaymaa Sobhy's illustrations, offering a contemporary lens on the great dynamism and diversity found in global Arab culture.


A charming character serves as your guide. Along the way, you get an A-to-Z introduction to her family, friends, and community, and follow her fun-filled adventures. Holidays and cultural traditions are woven into the narrative, offering a window into the world of an English-speaking child in the twenty-first century Arabic world:


E is for Eid al-Fitr.

We celebrate, we eat!

Gather round the table

can you find a seat?


A fun and informative foray into the Arabic language that combines Aya Khalil's lilting rhymes with Chaymaa Sobhy's vibrant illustrations.



Newcomer Salma and friends cook up a heartwarming dish to cheer up Mama.


All Salma wants is to make her mama smile again. Between English classes, job interviews, and missing Papa back in Syria, Mama always seems busy or sad. A homemade Syrian meal might cheer her up, but Salma doesn't know the recipe, or what to call the vegetables in English, or where to find the right spices! Luckily, the staff and other newcomers in her Welcome Home are happy to lend a hand--and a sprinkle of sumac.


With creativity, determination, and charm, Salma brings her new friends together to show Mama that even though things aren't perfect, there is cause for hope and celebration. Syrian culture is beautifully represented through the meal Salma prepares and Anna Bron's vibrant illustrations, while the diverse cast of characters speaks to the power of cultivating community in challenging circumstances.



The story of a Palestinian family's ties to the land, and how one young girl finds a way to care for her home, even as she says goodbye.


It's 1967 in Nablus, Palestine.


Oraib loves the olive trees that grow outside the refugee camp where she lives. Each harvest, she and her mama pick the small fruits and she eagerly stomp stomp stomps on them to release their golden oil. Olives have always tied her family to the land, as Oraib learns from the stories Mama tells of a home before war.


But war has come to their door once more, forcing them to flee. Even as her family is uprooted, Oraib makes a solemn promise to her beloved olive trees. She will see to it that their legacy lives on for generations to come.


Debut author-illustrator Aya Ghanameh boldly paints a tale of bitterness, hope, and the power of believing in a free and thriving future.



Musa has the perfect idea for his special Jummah treat, but things don't go according to plan. Will Musa be able to get a yummy Jummah treat for his family?


Every Friday after Jummah prayer at the masjid, Musa's family has a special Jummah treat. They take turns picking out what the treat will be, but recently the choices have been . . . interesting. Week one, Mama made molokhia. It's perfect for sharing, but gives us molokhia teeth for days! Week two, Baba burned the kufte kebabs on the grill. Week three, Seedi made his favorite riz b'haleeb-creamy rice pudding with pistachio sprinkled on top with an unexpected ingredient. Last week, Maryam brought jellybeans. . . . Finally, it's Musa's turn to pick, and he picks his favorite-halal hot dogs! But actually getting to eat this deliciousness turns into a journey riddled with obstacles. Will he ever get his favorite tasty treat?




When fleeing her war-ravaged home, a young girl brings four magic seeds to help her family on their difficult journey


Dounia loves her home in Aleppo, Syria, and all of its wonderful smells, sights, and traditions. But when war breaks out, Dounia and her grandparents must flee their home to find safety. Before they go, their neighbor reads their future in a cup of coffee and sees a long, difficult journey ahead, and a blue house waiting at the end.

With only a bird carved from Aleppo soap and four little baraké seeds in her pocket, Dounia and her family face dangerous waters, a camp surrounded by barbed wire, and unfriendly soldiers. Remembering the ancient knowledge that baraké seeds ward off evil, Dounia pulls one from her pocket to use for each of the threats her family faces. Magically, the seeds help the family along their way, until they finally find the blue house prophesied by their neighbor.


Elegant, eye-catching artwork beautifully illustrates one young girl's strength and resilience as she takes an active part in her own destiny.



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