Middle East and South Asia Arabic Language and Culture Kit
Al Dudatu Al Shadidatu Al Gou. Carle, Eric. Al-Balsam Publishing, 2005. ISBN: 9789776170139. This is the traditional story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar that tells readers about the life of a caterpillar from egg to butterfly. This book teaches first words in Arabic in a story format that teaches the days of the week, numbers and counting, and names of some foods.
Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq. Stamaty, Mark Alan. Knopf, 2004. ISBN: 9780375832178. In 2003, as bombs exploded over Basra, Alia attempted to preserve the collective history of Iraq. Alia was the chief librarian of the Central Library and as she watched her city prepare for war, she recalled her childhood history lessons and the stories of the destruction of the great library of Baghdad in 1258. Alia begged local officials to help but instead government officials commandeered her building. Secretly, Alia and her friends transported 30,000 volumes to safety before the library burned to the ground.
Apricots Tomorrow and Other Arabic Proverbs. Arnander, Primrose & Skipworth, Ashkhain. Lamb, Kathryn, Ill. Stacey International, 1997. ISBN: 9780905743578. “To understand a people, acquaint yourself with their proverbs” runs an Arab adage, and here is the book to do just that. Paralleling age-old Arabic sayings from the Gulf region with English equivalents, the proverbs highlight the uncanny similarity of inherited wisdom in both East and West. One hundred proverbs from all over the Arab World. Dual-language: Arabic/English.
Ayat Jamilah: Beautiful Signs. Conover, Sarah & Crane, Freda. Wahl, Valerie, Ill. Skinner House Books, 2010. ISBN: 9781558965690. This collection of stories not only draws from the core of Islamic spirituality and ethics, the Qur’an, and the traditions (hadiths), but also from the mystical verse, folk tales, and exemplary figures of the Islamic narrative. Beautiful Signs gathers traditional stories from the farthest reaches of the Muslim word and thorough explanatory notes, will be invaluable to anyone wishing to understand or teach geography, world history, or world religions.
B is for Bedu: An Illustrated Alphabet Book. Gabriel, Fay. Motivate Publishing. 1999. ISBN: 9781860631030. The Bedu way of life in Arabia has existed for thousands of years, yet, as these remarkable nomadic people have disappeared to the cities, so has our knowledge and understanding of them. In B is for Bedu, fascinating photographs that reveal an almost forgotten heritage support the letters of the alphabet. Constantly moving to find grazing for their animals, tending their flocks in the vast, empty land, and weaving beautiful patterns for their houses of hair, the wonder of the Bedu is that they managed to survive in the harsh desert environment.
Beneath My Mother’s Feet. Qamar, Amjed. Atheneum, 2008. ISBN: 9781416947288. Growing up in a working-class neighborhood in Karachi, Pakistan, Nazia has always been a dutiful daughter. She works hard in school, helps her mother at home, and prepares for her upcoming marriage to a cousin. Then Nazia’s father loses his job and his will to work, her dowry is stolen, and the family descends quickly into poverty. After eviction from their home, Nazia and her mother take positions as live-in servants in a wealthy Karachi suburb, and Nazia begins a life of labor, leaving school behind. With rich detail, Qamar’s novel explores the cultural and economic pressures facing a young girl in contemporary Pakistan.
Best Eid Ever. Mobin-Uddin, Asma. Jacobsen, Laura, Ill. Boyds Mills Press, 2007. ISBN: 9781590784310. It’s Eid, and Aneesa should be happy, but her parents are thousands of miles away in Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage. To cheer her up, her grandmother gives her a gift of beautiful clothing from Pakistan, one dress for each of the three days of Eid. At the prayer hall, Aneesa meets two sisters who are not dressed in new clothes for the holiday. She discovers that the girls are refugees; Aneesa can’t stop thinking about the girls and what Eid must be like for them. That’s when she comes up with a plan to help the girls have the best Eid holiday ever.
Breadwinner. Ellis, Deborah. Groundwood Books 2000. ISBN: 9780888994196. Eleven-year-old Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. Parvana’s father — a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed — works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested for the crime of having a foreign education, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food. As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must disguise herself as a boy, and become the breadwinner.
The Carpet Boy’s Gift. Shea, Pegi Deitz. Morin. Leane. Tilbury House, 2006. ISBN: 9780884482499. Inspired by the true story of Iqbal Masih, a boy from Pakistan who fought for the rights of child laborers, this tale follows Nadeem, a youngster who has been forced to work in a carpet factory under inhumane conditions to repay a “loan” made to his parents. His life is changed forever after he meets Iqbal, who informs him of a new law that will enable all children to stop working and attend school. Nadeem eventually gathers the courage to leave the factory along with the other youngsters.
Count Your Way through the Arab World. Haskins, James. Gustafson, Dana, Ill. Carolrhoda, 1987. ISBN: 9780876144879. This text presents the numbers from one to ten in Arabic and introduces diverse facets of the Arab world and its culture–including geography, religion, history, and traditions.
Elmer’s Day. McKee, David. Milet Publishing, 2004. ISBN: 9781840593983. This story takes place on Elmer Day, when the gray elephants decorate themselves for the big parade. The other animals are complaining about all of the noise made by the excited elephants as they prepare for the big event. Elmer recognizes the feelings for what they really are, jealousy, and invites the others to join in the celebration. In turn, they have a surprise for Elmer. In English and Arabic, with a CD included. Translated by Ahmed, Al-Hamdi.
Genius of Islam: How Muslims Made the Modern World. Barnard, Bryn. Knopf, 2011. ISBN: 9780375840722. The Muslim world has often been a bridge between East and West, but many of Islam’s crucial innovations are hidden within the folds of history. In this book, Bryn Barnard uses short, engaging text and full-color illustrations to bring Islam’s contributions to life.
Hodhod’s Arabic Alphabet. Aboulnga, Sharif. CreateSpace, 2013. ISBN: 9781492838999. Hodhod’s Arabic Alphabet is a fun and colorful book to teach Arabic ABCs as well as 28 animals to children. In this book you will find: 58 pages of artwork, colorful pages with the letters of the Arabic alphabet, and 28 unique animals that are colorful and cute. This book is a companion to the iOS application Hood’s Arabic Alphabet “which is a Top 10 Arabic alphabet app. on iTunes.”
IQRA’ Arabic Reader Textbook Level 1. Abdallah, Fadel Ibrahim. IQRA’ International Education Foundation, 2011. ISBN: 9781563160271. This book is designed as a beginning program for teaching Arabic as a second language. Included are lessons dealing with basic conversational Arabic, reading, vocabulary, linguistic structures, spelling, and diction. Dual-language: English and Arabic. There are several books in this series.
Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq. Winter, Jeanette. HMH, 2005. ISBN: 9780152054458. Books are “more precious than mountains of gold” to Alia Muhammad Baker, the librarian of Basra. War has come to Basra, and in order to save the library collection, Alia and friends move 30,000 books into their homes. In a war-stricken country where civilians–especially women–have little power, this true story about a librarian’s struggle to save her community’s priceless collection of books reminds us how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries.
Lion, King, and Coin. Nam, Jeong-hee. Sforza, Lucia, Ill. Erdmans Books for Young Readers, 2017. ISBN: 9780802854759. Laos enjoys his life in ancient Turkey. His father and grandfather are blacksmiths, famous for melting gold into beautiful objects. Laos helps by working in his grandfather’s market stall, bartering their gold for food and livestock. But exchanging such different goods and quantities is complicated. What they need is something to represent the value of their goods, something durable and lightweight. After presenting this idea to the king, he comes to Laos’s family with a very important task: to create something that will make the market accessible to everyone. A story about the invention of currency in ancient Turkey around 600 BCE.
Lugalbanda: The Boy Who got caught up in a War: An Epic Tale from Ancient Iraq. Henderson, Kathy. Ray, Jane, Ill. Candlewick, 2006. ISBN: 9780763627829. Lugalbanda woke with a jolt. He opened his eyes and what did he see but the terrible Anzu bird beating its wings in its nest high above; Did he quake? Did he quail? No. Lugalbanda the Brave sat and stared, and into his head came a brilliant idea. Before the Bible and the Koran, even before the Greek and Roman myths, there came a story from the land we now call Iraq. Speaking across five thousand years, this tale tells of an extraordinary journey, of a magical bird, of a battle that wouldn’t end, and of wisdom gained. It is the story of Lugalbanda, a boy in a time of war. Etched on clay tablets in cuneiform, lost underground for thousands of years and rediscovered just 150 years ago, this is the account of the epic adventures of a loyal, resourceful boy.
Middle East. Steele, Philip. Kingfisher, 2006. ISBN: 97807353459843. The Middle East captures the richness and diversity of Middle Eastern culture and places the region in its global context. The Middle East dominates global news and politics, and its many historical and sociological complexities are difficult to understand. By examining a wide range of themes, including religion, resources, history, politics, and current affairs, and then embarking on a country-by-country examination, The Middle East is an excellent companion to any discussion of the region.
Muhammad. Demi. Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon and Schuster). ISBN: 9780689852640. Born in Mecca in the year 570, Muhammad grew into a sensitive and thoughtful man who believed deeply in the worship of one true god. In his fortieth year, Muhammad experienced a revelation from the angel Gabriel that he, Muhammad, was the messenger of God. Over the next twenty-three years, he received many such revelations, all of which were written down at the time by scribes to become the Quran and the Five Pillars of Islam. The readily understandable narrative tells the stories of Muhammad’s life as Muslim children hear them, beginning with his birth in Mecca (A.D. 570) and ending with the declaration that although Muhammad has died, God never will. In keeping with Islamic artistic tradition, the paintings do not portray the face or body of the Prophet; instead Demi shows his silhouette in gold leaf.
Muslim Child: Understanding Islam Through Stories and Poems. Khan, Rukhsana. Gallinger, Patty, Ill. Whitman, 2002. ISBN: 9780807553077.
Muslim Child is a collection of eight short stories along with several poems that offer a glimpse into the daily lives of Muslim children around the world. Every story begins with brief writings from the Quran, or sayings of the prophet Muhammad, and is designed to teach the basic tenets of the faith.
My Arabic Words Book. Siddiqa Juma, Tahrike Tarsile Qur’an, 2007. ISBN: 9781879402331. This is an illustrated book featuring an Arabic word for each of the twenty-eight letters of the alphabet, presented in Arabic script along with the English translation. Delightful illustrations bring the vocabulary words to life, and there is a pronunciation guide to help with special characters.
My Beautiful Birds. Del Rizo, Suzanne. Pajama Press, 2017. ISBN: 9781772780109. Behind Sami, the Syrian skyline is full of smoke. The boy follows his family and all his neighbors in a long line, as they walk through the sands and hills to escape the bombs that have destroyed their homes. But all Sami can think of are his pet pigeons―will they escape too? When they reach a refugee camp and are safe at last, everyone settles into the tent city. But though the children start to play and go to school again, Sami can’t forget his birds and what his family has left behind. One day a canary, a dove, and a rose finch fly into the camp. They flutter around Sami and settle on his outstretched arms. For Sami it is one step in a long healing process at last. A gentle yet moving story of refugees of the Syrian civil war, My Beautiful Birds illuminates the ongoing crisis as it affects its children. It shows the reality of the refugee camps, where people attempt to pick up their lives and carry on. And it reveals the hope of generations of people as they struggle to redefine home.
My Name is Bilal. Mobin-Uddin, Asma. Kiwak, Barbara, Ill. Boyds Mills Press, 2005. ISBN: 9781590781753. Bilal and his sister Ayesha are attending a new school and soon find out that they may be the only Muslim students there. When Bilal sees his sister bullied on their first day, he worries about being teased himself, and thinks it might be best if his classmates didn’t know that he is Muslim. Mr. Ali, one of Bilal’s teachers and also Muslim, sees how Bilal is struggling. He gives Bilal a book about the first person to give the call to prayer during the time of the prophet Muhammad. What Bilal learns from this book forms the compelling story of a young boy grappling with his identity.
19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East. Nye, Naomi Shihab. Greenwillow, 2005. ISBN: 9780060504045. “September 11 cast a huge shadow across the lives of so many innocent people and an ancient culture’s pride,” Nye tells the reader in the introduction of these sixty poems that tell about being Arab-American, about Jerusalem, the West bank, and her family. The poet encourages us to think and understand what it is to be Arab and to “leap like the gazelle” toward the horizon with the hope of peace spinning inside us.
One City Two Brothers. Smith, Chris. Fronty, Aurélia, Ill. Barefoot Books, 2007. ISBN: 9781846860423. When two brothers come to Solomon with a dispute about land inheritance, the king tells them the story of two other brothers who secretly transfer grain, each from his own stock to add to his brother’s storehouse in the night. In the morning, they are puzzled and dismayed to find their own stores undiminished and the next night try again. On the third night, each bearing more sacks of grain for the other, they meet and embrace. This spot becomes the site of the holy temple and the very city of Jerusalem. Based on a folktale told by both Jews and Arabs, this picture book illustrates what could be if people thought more about one another than about themselves.
Party in Ramadan. Mobin-Uddin, Asma. Jacobsen, Laura, Ill. Boyds Mills Press, 2009. ISBN: 9781590786048. Although too young to fast each day, Leena decides to fast on Fridays during Ramadan. When she receives an invitation to a party held on a Friday, she makes the decision to attend, but also decides not to break her fast, even though the food looks very tempting. This book shows the observance and meaning of Ramadan from the viewpoint of a Muslim child.
Roses in My Carpets. Khan, Rukhsana. Himler, Ron, Ill. Fitzhenry & Whiteside Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780823413997. This realistic story follows a day in the life of a young Afghani refugee who takes solace in the beautiful carpets he weaves. In a recurring nightmare, he flees with his mother and younger sister, Maha, from the bomber planes that killed his father, then awakes to find himself in a safe but impoverished camp. Here, where everything – walls, floor, and courtyard is mud, a boy’s heart can still long for freedom, independence, and safety. And here, where refugee life is fragile, the strength to endure grows out of need.
Sami and the Time of the Troubles. Heide, Florence Parry & Gilliland, Judith Heide. Lewin, Ted, Ill. HMH Books, 1995. ISBN: 9780395720851. A ten-year-old Lebanese boy balances his life in his war-torn city of Beirut. He has been living in his uncle’s basement for most of his life, and on rare days when it’s safe, the family ventures out. Sami longs for peace, but in some way understands that the future of his country depends on his generation to stop the war.
The Shadows of Ghadames. Stolz, Joelle. Delacorte Books, 2006. ISBN: 9780440419495. In the Libyan city of Ghadames at the end of the nineteenth century, Malika is dreading her twelfth birthday. That is the time when, according to her family’s Berber customs, she will be close to marriageable age and confined to the world of women. In Ghadames that means living a quiet life filled with household tasks, confined to their homes and rooftops. Malika longs to live beyond the segregated city and travel, like her father, who is a trader. But the wider world comes to Malika after her father’s two wives rescue a man injured outside their home. This is a story of an outsider who unsettles a household and helps a young person to grow. Translated from French by Catherine Temerson.
Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad. Rumford, James. Roaring Brook Press, 2008. ISBN: 9781596432765. Like other children living in Baghdad, Ali loves soccer, music and dancing, but most of all, he loves the ancient art of calligraphy. When bombs begin to fall on his city, Ali turns to his pen, writing sweeping and gliding words to the silent music that drowns out the war all around him. A powerful story about a child’s everyday survival and hope in war torn Baghdad. CD included.
Sitti’s Secrets. Nye, Naomi Shihab. Carpenter, Nancy, Ill. Aladdin, 1997. ISBN: 9780689817069. Mona, a young Arab-American girl, journeys with her father to Palestine to meet her grandmother, Sitti, for the first time. Without the ease of speaking the same language, Sitti and Mona learn to communicate with their own “invented” language. Sitti shows Mona her neighborhood and shares with her the pleasure of doing traditional household tasks. Mona soon discovers that, despite the differences in their lives, she and her grandmother share a warm and enduring bond.
Sugar comes from Arabic: A Beginner’s Guide to Arabic Letters and Words. Whitesides, Barbara. Interlink Publishing Group, 2009. ISBN: 9781566567572. This book presents clear directions for learning and writing Arabic letters, in large, bright red shapes with step-by-step instruction on how to draw each one. The Arabic letters are introduced in the order of the English alphabet, the script goes from right to left, and illustrations show how to connect the letters in a word. In addition, there are colorful illustrations and stories about products that have origins in the Arab World.
Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood. Barakat, Ibtisam. Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2007. ISBN: 9780374357337. In this eloquent memoir set in Ramallah after the 1967 Six-Day War, Ibtisam captures what it is like to be a child whose world is shattered by war. With candor and courage, she stitches together memories of her childhood: fear and confusion as bombs explode near her home and she is separated from her family; the harshness of life as a Palestinian refugee; her unexpected joy when she discovers Alef, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet.
Time to Pray. Addasi, Maha. Gannon, Ned, Ill. Boyds Mills Press, 2010. ISBN: 9781590786116. On her first night visiting her grandmother, the muezzin at the nearby mosque calling the faithful to prayer wakens Yasmin. She watches from her bed as her grandmother prepares to pray. During her stay, Yasmin’s grandmother makes her prayer clothes, buys her a prayer rug, and teaches her the five prayers that Muslims perform over the course of a day. When it’s time for Yasmin to board a plane and return home, her grandmother gives her a present. When Yasmin opens the present when she gets home, she discovers a prayer clock in the shape of a mosque, with an alarm that sounds like a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. Dual-language: English and Arabic.
Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta, 1325-1354. Rumford, James. HMH Books, 2004. ISBN: 9780618432332. “In the days when the earth was flat and Jerusalem was the center of the world, there was a boy named Ibn Battuta.” So begins this introduction to the journeys of this historically important but little-known, 14th-century Muslim figure. Born in Morocco and raised as a scholar, he began his 29 years of travel in 1325 when, “At twenty-one, he decided to go to Mecca as a pilgrim.” He went on through Africa, across the steppes of Asia, into India and China, and back to Morocco where “he told his story to the Moroccan court secretary Ibn Juzayy, who wrote it down in Arabic.”
Up, Up, and Away with Arabic Numbers. Ameen, Saba Ghazi. Naggar, Amal El, Ill. IQRA’ International Educational Foundation, 2008. ISBN: 978156316027. The purpose of this book is to teach the names, sounds, and shapes of Arabic numerals using pictures and stencils. Numbers progress from 1-10 and then jump by tens to 100.
Very Hungry Caterpillar/ Al Dudatu Al Shadidaut Al Gou. Carle, Eric. Karadi Tales Company, 2016. ISBN: 9788181901309. This is the traditional story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar that tells readers about the life of a caterpillar from egg to butterfly. This book teaches first words in Arabic in a story format that teaches the days of the week, numbers and counting, and names of some foods. Dual-Language: Arabic/English. Translated by Pratibha Jain.
Wanting Mor. Khan, Rukhsana. Groundwood Books, 2010. ISBN: 9780888998620. Jameela lives with her mother and father in Afghanistan. Despite the fact that there is no school in their poor, war-torn village, and though Jameela lives with a birth defect that has left her with a cleft lip, she feels relatively secure, sustained by her unwavering faith and the strength of her beloved mother, Mor. But when Mor suddenly dies, Jameela’s father impulsively decides to seek a new life in Kabul. Jameela, a devout Muslim, is appalled as her father succumbs to drink and drugs and then suddenly remarries, a situation that turns Jameela into a virtual slave to her demanding stepmother. When the stepmother discovers that Jameela is trying to learn to read, she urges her father to abandon the child in Kabul’s busy marketplace. Throughout it all, it is the memory of Mor that anchors her and in the end gives Jameela the strength to face her father and stepmother when fate brings them into her life again.
Zaki’s Ramahdan Fast. El-Moslimany, Ann P. Butler, Erica L., Ill. Amica Publishing House, 1994. ISBN: 9781884187087. This story looks at a day in the life of a Muslim boy who is fasting for the first time. Though he is still not required to fast every day for the month of Ramadan, his family gives him their support to achieve his goal of fasting one day. Even with that support, Zaki quickly learns that it takes effort.