Arab children’s books about folkktales are like a four leaf clover to me. Every time I come across one, I realize the rarity of the occurrence and I snatch it up to use in my story time at the public library.
One of my favorite things to visit in any city is its used book store. I feel that it can always tell so many stories about it’s character by the people that are left on the shelves.
These are some of my favorite Arab folktales books, all of them purchased from used book stores around the Unites States. Each one has a city name written inside (in pencil of course) that reminds me a little about it’s original home.
I am an Amazon affiliate member, so clicking on these titles will give you the ability to purchase them. The original list started with 8 Children Books about Remarkable Muslims, but I decided to add to it, rather than create a new post, so now the list has expanded to over 20+ books.
Feel free to buy any of these books there and shukran (Arabic for thank you) for continuing to support my educational blog.
Climo, Shirley. Egyptian Cinderella.
This Egyptian spin on the classic Cinderella tale was initially recorded in the first century by a Roman historian and is retold here by folklorist Shirley Climo. Poor Rhodopis! She has nothing—no mother or father, and no friends. She is a slave, from the far-off country of Greece. Only the beautiful rose-red slippers her master gives her can make Rhodopis smile. So when a falcon swoops down and snatches one of the slippers away, Rhodopis is heartbroken. For how is she to know that the slipper will land in the lap of the great Pharaoh himself? And who would ever guess that the Pharaoh has promised to find the slipper’s owner and make her queen of all Egypt?
Green, Nancy. Abu Kassim’s Slippers.
This is a story of the miser Abu Kassim and his attempts at scheming to get rid of his slippers.
Hickox, Rebecca. Golden Sandal.
Since Maha’s father is away fishing most of the time, there is no one to help or comfort her. All that begins to change when Maha finds a magical red fish. In return for sparing his life, the fish promises to help Maha whenever she calls him. On the night Maha is forbidden to attend a grand henna to celebrate the coming wedding of a wealthy merchant’s daughter, the fish is true to his word. His magic sets in motion a chain of events that reward Maha with great happiness, and a dainty golden sandal is the key to it all.
Johnson-Davies, Denys. Folk Tales of Egypt.
Egyptian folklore is a rich treasure of imagination and wisdom. The seven stories in this book have been adapted from tales that are told by word of mouth in various parts of Egypt. The longest is a fantastic tale about how the famous Clever Hassan triumphs over evil and wins the beautiful girl he loves. Another tale tells of a simple peasant whose bad luck turns into riches beyond his dreams. Then there is the story of the poor peasant who falls in love with a beautiful princess and is helped by a wooden gazelle. You can also read how a clever judge tricks two thieves. The atmosphere of these tales is as colorful and exciting as the world of the Arabian Nights.
Simpson, Juwairiah J. L. Jinn in the Clock.
After Friday prayers in the Town of the Red Mosque, Duwairig the storyteller, a kind and helpful Muslim, always visits the family of Zaid and his parents. Zaid always coaxes a story out of him, stories that help the children to appreciate what it means to be a good Muslim. This time it is the story of how he helped a poor widow collect a mysterious inheritance. This beautifully-illustrated story is filled with lessons for young readers, as it emphasizes the importance of inculcating Islamic teachings in children, in a fast-paced adventure of mystery and discovery. Perfect for Muslim youth, ages ten and up.
Honorary Adult Book Mention
Bushnaq, Inea. Arab Folktales.
Out of alleys of Cairo and Bedouin tents, from the Moroccan laborers and Syrian peasants, this collection of 130 tales comes from Arab worlds from North Africa to the Holy Land.
To see more books about the Arab world, please stop by A Crafty Arab’s resource page.
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