Amazing Children’s Books by Arab and Arab American Authors

April means it’s time for warmer weather, rain showers, and Arab American Heritage Month. There are many extraordinary authors of Arab heritage, and now is an excellent time to pick up their books and read them with your kids. Whether you have young children, tweens, or teens, here are some of the best books from Arab American authors to dive into this month.

no no 9780593525180 These Olive Trees by Aya Ghanameh

This poignant story set in 1967 Palestine celebrates a young girl’s love for the olive trees that connect her family to their land. As war forces Oraib’s family to flee their refugee camp, she vows to keep alive the legacy of her beloved olive trees, promising to ensure their survival for future generations. A beautiful book about war, hope, and the strength of love in hard times.
(Ages 3 – 5)

9781536213959 Arab Arab All Year Long! by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi

Any young reader will appreciate this joy-filled, culturally rich picture book that celebrates the diversity, traditions, and festivals of Arabs throughout the year. Through enchanting illustrations and engaging text, readers are taken on a colorful journey that highlights the beauty and uniqueness of Arab culture, fostering appreciation and understanding.

Fans of this book may also enjoy Camper’s Ten Ways to Hear Snow, a snow-filled story about a young Arab American girl and her grandmother.
(Ages 3 – 7)

9781536230215 Eleven Words for Love: A Journey Through Arabic Expressions of Love by Randa Abdel-fattah, illustrated by Maxine Beneba Clarke

This heartfelt picture book explores 11 intricate and nuanced ways that love is expressed across the Arabic language and culture. With stunning visuals, follow a Middle Eastern family as they leave their homeland with a suitcase full of mementos in tow. Arabic script, alongside the English translation, makes for a bilingual treasure that enriches the reading experience.
(Ages 4 – 8)

9781662650642 Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers by Uma Mishra-Newbery and Lina Al-Hathloul, illustrated by Rebecca Green

Pick up this vibrant picture book for a story about equal opportunity, perseverance, and dreaming big. It is inspired by the Nobel Peace Prize nominee Loujain Al-Hathloul, who fought for driving rights for women. In the story, young Loujain sees her father flying and dreams of joining him in the air. Even though girls are not allowed to fly in their country, Loujain’s father teaches her. The gorgeous illustrations and powerful message make this book unforgettable.
(Ages 4 – 8)

9781984813787 The Cat Man of Aleppo by Karim Shamsi-Basha and Irene Latham, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu

During Syria’s Civil War, homeless cats wander the empty, silent streets. Wanting to help, Alaa opens his home to the cats and cares for the abandoned creatures. But there are too many cats and only one Alaa. Thankfully, his story inspires people around the world to send help and donations. This Caldecott Honor-winning picture book is based on the true story of a man who stayed in his war-torn city to care for the cats.
(Ages 4 – 8)

9780593619308 Daughters of the Lamp by Nedda Lewers

Sahara is a scientific-minded 12-year-old thrown into a magical mystery adventure when she visits present-day Egypt over the summer. Flashback to 985 C.E., Morgana is the 13-year-old servant to Ali Baba, entrusted to aid in the safekeeping of magical treasures. Connected across time by a magical necklace, Lewers masterfully weaves together the lives, the mystery, and the magic of these two strong and relatable girls.

And readers will be delighted to dive into the sequel, Children of the Wind, coming June 2024.
(Ages 8 – 12)

9780147515032 The Green Bicycle by Haifaa Al Mansour

Even though girls aren’t supposed to ride bikes in Saudi Arabia, that doesn’t stop eleven-year-old Wadjda from dreaming about it. She works hard to save money to purchase a bike, but her plans derail when her school threatens to expel her. This story is inspiring, heartfelt, and thought-provoking — the perfect read for Arab American Heritage Month!
(Ages 10+)

9781984851987 Muzoon: A Syrian Refugee Speaks Out by Muzoon Almellehan and Wendy Pearlman

Muzoon Almellehan shares her personal story in this memoir for young readers. When her family fled their home in Syria, they could only take necessities. For Muzoon, this included her schoolbooks. Readers will be fascinated by Muzoon’s inspiring story of living in a refugee camp, pursuing an education, and becoming a respected advocate for people in similar situations. Her story inspires readers to value their freedoms and not take education for granted.
(Ages 10+)

9780593126967 Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim

Magic, romance, and adventure combine in this breathtaking YA fantasy novel from an Arab Australian author! Imani is a magical warrior trained to protect her city from djinn and monsters. So when the Council hires her to capture her traitorous brother, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the task. YA readers can’t get enough of this stunning series opener!
(Young Adult)

9780593353707 Man o’ War by Cory McCarthy

River is an Irish and Lebanese American trans-nonbinary athlete who has felt trapped like fish in an aquarium. Then they meet Indy, an openly queer classmate who evokes feelings within River so intense that they jump into a literal shark tank. What follows is a 15-year journey of self-discovery and acceptance that so realistically mirrors the experiences of many trans people. Full of emotion and joy, this beautiful blend of romance and coming-of-age is an absolute must-read.
(Young Adult)

9780593177082 Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo

Safia Elhillo won several prestigious awards, including the Arab American Book Award, with her YA novel-in-verse about a teen who doesn’t fit in. Nima feels out of place at home, at school, and in her neighborhood. As she grapples with her identity, Nima learns to lean on her family and embrace her unique qualities. Elhillo’s beautiful, lyrical verse creates a heartfelt portrait of a young woman learning to accept herself.
(Young Adult)

9780593354452 From Here by Luma Mufleh

Get ready for a powerful and heart-wrenching memoir about a young gay woman growing up in Jordan. Her account will keep YA readers riveted, from discovering her sexuality to immigrating to the United States and seeking asylum. Along the way, she discovers the meaning of family, home, and freedom.
(Young Adult)

9780593324301 Huda F Are You? by Huda Fahmy

This humorous graphic novel is the perfect choice for anyone who has suffered from an identity crisis (haven’t we all?). When her family moves to a small town in Michigan, Huda goes from being one of a few Muslim kids at school to one of many. Suddenly, she doesn’t know where she fits in and struggles to make friends. Huda soon realizes that the only way to survive her new school is by being her authentic self.
(Young Adult)

9780593381205 Bright Red Fruit by Safia Elhillo

YA readers trying to find their place in society will appreciate this gorgeous novel-in-verse from the award-winning author of Home Is Not A Country. When a rumor destroys Samira’s reputation, and her parents ground her, she turns to the only outlet she has left — poetry. As she gets further into the world of slam poetry, Samira must decide how much of herself to give to her art, her heritage, and a new romance.
(Young Adult)

9781524748418 Shubeik Lubeik by Deena Mohamed

This beautiful graphic novel weaves together folklore and contemporary issues in a whimsical tale set in a fantastical Egyptian landscape. Vibrant art and a compelling narrative tell the story of three wishes granted and the perils that come from having your deepest desires come true. Content includes swearing, smoking, and drug references that may not be suitable for younger teen readers.
(Young Adult)

This article was originally published in 2023 and updated in 2024.

The post Amazing Children’s Books by Arab and Arab American Authors appeared first on Brightly.

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