Children’s Books About the Middle East: Update

There are many many more books about the  Middle East for children and adolescents, with more published each year.  Unfortunately, they are not often highlighted in the media, and it requires investigation to find out about them.  We’ve posted lists of titles from this part of world in the past.  If you missed them, this is a great time to check them out:

Middle East YA Recommendations

Middle East Books for Tweens and Teens

Picture Books:  Understanding the Middle East

Recently, some new titles have emerged that we can recommend for your information–and for your reading pleasure:

TurtleThe Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

Just out in May (2016), this is a novel you”ll want on your bookshelf.  Poet and novelist Naomi Shihab Nye writes with sensitivity and lyrical prose in this novel for tween and teen readers about a young boy, Aref Al-Amri.  In his move from Muscat, Oman to  Ann Arbor, Michigan, he must prepare for a whole new life, one that will not include his school, his friends, or his beloved Grandfather, Sidi. In protest, he refuses to pack his suitcase.  Rather than force him to pack, his mother calls on Sidi for help.  Sidi takes Aref for an overnight camping trip, fishing on the Indian Ocean and memorably, to visit a nesting ground for many kinds of turtles.  The story has warmth and humor, and is also a very touching story about the bond between grandfather and grandson.  This book is a wonderful antidote to viewing immigrants with suspicion and fear and serves window into another country and culture.


Arabian-NightsThe Arabian Nights by Wafa’ Tarnowska Carole Henaff

It’s difficult to find good translations of the stories of the Arabian Nights.  This one is a keeper, written by Lebanese author Wafa’ Tarnowska Carole Henaff. The edition is notable for combining favorites such as ‘Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp’ with less familiar tales such as ‘The Diamond Anklet’ and ‘The Speaking Bird and the Singing Tree.’ Beautiful illustrations make this a collection worth owning, and poring over with elementary and middle school children as a wonderful read-aloud. A fitting introduction to this classic Syrian literature, written in the 14th century.


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