The Middle East: Building Bridges through Children's Books

The books listed are a sampling of the titles available. Ask your Children's Librarian for further suggestions and tell us which are your favorites.

Nonfiction

The Bedouin of the Middle East
by Elizabeth Losleben.
Lerner, 2003. Kids Can Press, 1997.
(j956-0049 LosL) Ages 9-12

Find out about the life, history, customs and future of these nomadic people.

Also: The Kurds of Asia (LoBaido). In the First Peoples series.

Children of Israel
by Laurie M. Grossman.
Carolrhoda, 2001.
(j956.9405 Gros) Ages 8-11

Photo essay about the daily lives of children from a variety of locales and backgrounds. Also: Children of Egypt (Pitkanen). In The World’s Children series.

Cooking the Lebanese Way
by Saud Amari.
Revised edition. Lerner, 2003.
(j641.5956 Amar 2003) Ages 9-13

Includes recipes for lunch, appetizers, dinner, and holiday and festival foods.

Also: Cooking the Israeli Way (Bacon); Cooking the Middle Eastern Way (Behnke); Cooking the Turkish Way (Cornell). In the Easy Menu Ethnic Cookbook series. First edition: j641 Amar.

Festivals of Egypt
by Jailan Abbas.
Hoopoe Books, 1995.
(j291 Abba) Ages 8-11

The ten most popular celebrations and their origins – Islamic, Christian, and Ancient Egyptian – are described.

In an Egyptian City
by Khaled Eldash and Dalia Khattab.
Benchmark, 2003.
(j962.605 ELda) Ages 6-9

Meet 7-year-old Boushra and experience with her a typical day in Cairo. In the A Child’s Day series.

Iraq
by Susan M. Hassig and Laith Muhmood Al Adely.
Benchmark, 2004.
(j956.7 Hass 2004) Ages 9+

Discusses the history, geography, and peoples of Iraq. Also: Bahrain (Cooper); Egypt (Pateman); Iran (Rajendra); Israel (DuBois); Kuwait (O’Shea); Saudi Arabia (Janin); Turkey (Sheehan). In the Cultures of the World series.

Jewish Holidays All Year Round
by Ilene Cooper. Illustrated by Elivia Savadier.
Abrams/In Association with the Jewish Museum, 2002.
(j296.43 Coop) Ages 8-11

A thoughtful exploration of the history, significance and observations of thirteen Jewish holidays and festivals.

Mosque
by David Macaulay.
Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
(j726.2 Maca) Ages 10+

In a fictional framework, Macaulay details the design, construction, and uses of a 16th century mosque and its adjoining buildings.

Also: A 16th Century Mosque (Macdonald)

National Geographic Atlas of the Middle East.
National Geographic, 2003.
(j912.56) Ages 10+

Sixteen countries and the Occupied Territories and six major cities are presented in maps, with additional historical maps and timeline. Also in Adult collection.

The Ottoman Empire
by Adriane Ruggiero.
Benchmark, 2003.
(j956.1015 Rugg) Ages 10+ Overview of the history, religion, culture and legacy of the Ottoman Turks from 1288-1918. Also: The Ancient Hebrews (Mann); The Golden Age of Islam (George); Mesopotamia (Service); The Persian Empire (Zeinert); The Phoenicians (Marston). In the Cultures of the Past series.
Our Children: Drawings and Captions
Edited by Amal Al-Ghanem.
Center for Research and Studies on Kuwait, 2002.
(ARABIC j892.7 Our) Ages 10+

In vivid words and art, Kuwaiti young people express their feelings about life and their country. Text in English and Arabic.

Palestinians
Edited by Carol Johnson Shedd.
Cobblestone, 2003.
(j956.94 PaLe v. 19) Ages 8-12

Artlcles about many aspects of Palestinian life in the May 2003 issue of the magazine, Faces: People, Places and Cultures.

Science in Early Islamic Cultures
by George Beshore.
Watts, 1998.
(j509.1767 Besh 1998) Ages 9-12

Building on the knowledge of ancient civilizations, Muslim scholars made advances in math, astronomy, geography and medicine.

Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak
by Deborah Ellis.
Groundwood, 2004.
(j956.04 ELLi) Ages 10+

Twenty young people from 8 to 18 speak of their daily lives and what it’s like to live in the midst of violent conflict.

Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta, 1325-1354
by James Rumford.
Houghton Mifflin, 2001.
(j910.92 Rumf) Ages 7-10

A young Moroccan scholar journeyed across the known world all the way to China and back.

Understanding the Holy Land: Answering Questions about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
by Mitch Frank.
Viking, 2005.
(j956.9405 Fran) Ages 11+

Balanced, straightforward questions and answer presentation of the complexities in the Middle East by a Time Magazine reporter.

The Western Wall: And Other Jewish Holy Places
by Mandy Ross.
Raintree, 2003.
(j296.482 Ross) Ages 8-11

Judaism is introduced through its sacred sites. Also: Mecca: And Other Islamic Holy Places. In the Holy Places series.

Women in the Middle East: Tradition and Change
by Ramsay M. Harik and Elsa Marston.
Watts, 2003.
(j305.4209 Hari 2003) Ages 12+

Enlightening introduction to the varied experiences of Islamic women in the Middle East and North Africa.

Biographies

Hosni Muarak
by Vicki Cox.
Chelsea House, 2003.
(jB Muba) Ages 11+

The military and political life of the current president of Egypt, focusing on recent history and on future challenges.

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq
by Jeanette Winter.
Harcourt, 2005.
(jB Bake) Ages 5-9

Alia Muhammad Baker struggles to save the books in the Basra Central Library during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Also: Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq (Stamaty).

Muhammad of Mecca
by Elsa Marston.
Watts, 2001.
(j297.63 Mars) Ages 10+

Chronicles the life of the revered prophet and the spread of Islam after his death. For younger readers: Muhammad (Demi).

A Promise Fulfilled: Theodor Hertzl, Chaim Weitzmann, David Ben-Gurion, and the Creation of the State of Isreal
by Howard Greenfeld.
Greenwillow, 2005.
(j320-5409 Gree) Ages 12+

Insight into three men with the same life mission: to establish a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine.

Rumi: Poet and Sage
by Denys Johnson-Davies. Illustrated by Laura de la Mare.
Hood Hood Books, 1997.
(j891.5511 John) Ages 8-12

A picture biography of the noted Islamic/Sufi poet and his work.

Saladin: Nobel Prince of Islam
by Diane Stanley.
HarperCollins 2002.
(jB SaLa) Ages 8-12

The life of the compassionate 12th century Kurd who united Muslim forces to liberate Jerusalem from the Crusaders, recounted in picture book format. Also: Cleopatra.

Folklore and Poetry

19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East
by Naomi Shihab Nye.
Greenwillow, 2002.
(j811.54 Nye) Ages 11+

A heartfelt wish for peace permeates these 60 poems. Also in the Teen collection.

Animal Tales from the Arab World
by Denys Johnson-Davies. Illustrated by Eda S. Ghali.
Hoopoe Books, 1995.
(j398.2091 John) Ages 7-10

Brief, fable-like tales show proud, wise, clever, and foolish animals.

The Epic of Gilgamesh
by Geraldine McCaughrean. Illustrated by David Parkins.
Eerdmans, 2003.
(j398.2095 McCa) Ages 9+

A robust retelling of the world’s oldest written story about an oppressive Mesopotamian king who goes in search of immortality after his best friend dies.

The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story
by Rebecca Hickox.
Holiday House, 1998.
(j398.2095 Hick) Ages 5-9

A mistreated Iraqi girl is repaid with a bright future by the magical red fish whose life she saved. (Also: The Persian Cinderella (Climo); The Egyptian Cinderella (Climo).

Next Year in Jerusalem: 3,000 Years of Jewish Stories
retold by Howard Schwartz. Illustrated by Neil Waldman.
Viking, 1996.
(j296.4 Schw) Ages 10+

Eleven Jewish tales centered on the city of Jerusalem and enhanced with historical notes.

The Seven Wise Princesses: A Medieval Persian Epic
by Wafa’ Tarnowska. Illustrated by Nilesh Mistry.
Barefoot, 2000.
(j891.551 Tarn) Ages 9-12

Each princess tells Shah Bahram a tale of love and virtue in this collection based on an epic poem by Nizami, a 12th century Persian poet.

Sindbad: From the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights
by Ludmila Zeman.
Tundra, 1999.
(j398.22 Zema) Ages 5-9

Two of the seven voyages of the famous sailor are brought to life with dramatic illustrations. Also: Gilgamesh the King and its sequels.

The Space Between Our Footsteps: Poems and Paintings from the Middle East
Selected by Naomi Shihab Nye.
Simon & Schuster, 1998.
(j808.81 Spac) Ages 9+

Poets and artists from 20 countries speak of childhood, family, daily life and the natural world in their homelands. Also, an abridged paperback version: The Flag of Childhood. Also in the Teen collection.

Watermelons, Walnuts, and the Wisdom of Allah
by Barbara K. Walker. Illustrated by Harold Berson.
Texas Tech University Press, 1991.
(j398.2209 WaLk 1991) Ages 7-10

Eighteen tales about the wisdom and the foolishness of the Turkish fold hero Nasreddin Hoca. For younger readers: The Hungry Coat (Demi).

The Wonderful Story of Zaal: A Persian Legend
by M. & N. Batmanglij. Illustrated by Franta.
Mage, 1986.
(FARSI j398.2095 Batm)

A white-haired baby, banished by his father, is saved and raised by a magical bird. Told in English and Persian.

Fiction

Against the Storm
by Gaye Hicyilmaz.
Little, Brown, 1992.
(jF Hicy) Ages 11+

Set in contemporary Turkey, a 12-year-old boy moves with his family from a village farm in Ankara where life is even more difficult.

The Beduins’ Gazelle
by Frances Temple.
Orchard, 1996.
(jF Temp) Ages 11+

A Bedouin boy, forced to study in the city, must return home to rescue his cousin from a forced marriage. The year is 1302, and they have been betrothed since birth. Also in Teen.

The Dog of Knots
by Kathy Walden Kaplan.
Eerdmans, 2004.
(jF KapL) Ages 9-12

An old, stray dog is cared for by several people in Haifa – you and old, Arab and Jew. For a Jewish girl, the dog becomes a symbol of memory, love, and hope in strife-torn Israel.

Habibi
by Naomi Shihab Nye.
Simon & Schuster, 1997.
(jF Nye) Ages 10+

Adjustment is difficult for a 14-year-old Arab American girl who moves with her family to Jerusalem, especially when she begins a close friendship with an Israeli boy. Also in Teen.

The House of Wisdom.
by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland. Illustrated by Mary GrandPŕe.
DK Ink, 1999.
(jF Heid) Ages 7-10

An extraordinary Islamic library in 9th century Baghdad is seen through the eyes of a scholar’s son.

Kiss the Dust
by Elizabeth Laird.
Dutton, 1992.
(jF Lair) Ages 10+

When secret police come looking for her father during the Iran-Iraq war of 1984-85, a Kurdish girl and her family flee Iraq and become refugees in Iran.

Running on Eggs
by Anna Levine.
Front Street/Cricket, 1999.
(jF Levi) Ages 9-13

Because of their love of running, an Israeli girl and a Palestinian girl maintain a friendship despite the odds.

Sami and the Time of the Troubles
by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland. Illustrated by Ted Lewin.
Clarion, 1992.
(jF Heid) Ages 6-9

A Lebanese boy and his family struggle to maintain a normal life in their uncle’s basement in civil war-torn Beirut.

Samir and Yonatan
by Daniella Carmi. Translated by Yael Lotan.
Arthur A Levine/Scholastic, 2000.
(jF Carm) Ages 10+

An unlikely friendship develops between a Palestinian boy and an Israeli boy when they have adjoining beds in a Jewish hospital.

Seven Daughters and Seven Sons
by Barbara Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy.
Atheneum, 1982.
(jF Cohe) Ages 11+

With her father’s support, a venturesome middle daughter goes out into the world. Disguised as a man she secures a good future for herself and her sisters. Based on an 11th century Iraqi tale from the oral tradition.

Shadow Spinner
by Susan Fletcher.
Atheneum, 1998.
(jF FLet) Ages 10+

In ancient Persia, a 13-year-old lame servant girl must join the Sultan’s harem in order to find stories for Shahrazad.

A Stone in My Hand
by Cathryn Clinton.
Candlewick, 2002.
(jF CLin) Ages 10-13

A Palestinian girl, living under Israeli military occupation in 1988, worries about her missing father and her brother who wants to join the Islamic Jihad.

Picture Books

Alef-Bet: A Hebrew Alphabet Book
by Michelle Edwards.
Lothrop, 1992.
(HEBREW j492 Edwa) Ages 3-6

Letters and related words are presented in the context of a family’s everyday activities.

Ali, Child of the Desert
by Jonathan London. Illustrated by Ted Lewin.
Lothrop, 1997.
(jPS Lond) Ages 6-9

On a trek across the Sahara to market, a young boy and his camel become lost during a dust storm.

The Day of Ahmed’s Secret
by Florence Parry Heide. Illustrated by Ted Lewin.
Lothrop, 1990.
(jPS Heid) Ages 5-8

To help his father, a boy living in Cairo delivers bottles of water all day long. He can’t wait to share a special secret with his family that night.

Hosni the Dreamer
by Ehud Ben-Ezer. Illustrated by Uri Shulevitz.
Farrar, 1997.
(jPS Bene) Ages 5-9

Rewarded with a gold coin for his work, a simple shepherd buys a verse that provides life-saving advice in this story based on an Arabian folktale.

My First Arabic Alphabet Book
by Siddiqa Juma.
Tahrike Tarsile Qu’ran, 1999.
(jBOARD Juma) Ages 1-5

Introduction to all 28 letters – their names and how they are written.

Shalom, Salaam, Peace
by Howard I. Bogot. Illustrated by Norman Gorbaty, Translated by Faruk Jarrar and Amir Or.
Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1999.
(ARABIC j821 Bogo) Ages 4-8

An idealistic poem in Hebrew, Arabic and English explores the meanings of peace.

Sitti’s Secrets
by Naomi Shihab Nye. Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter.
Four Winds, 1994.
(jPS Nye) Ages 4-8

A young American girl recalls a visit to her Arabic-speaking grandmother who lives far away in a Palestinian village. Similar to The Stars in The Stares in my Geddoh’s Sky (Matze), in which a boy’s Middle Eastern grandfather visits the U. S.

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