This book list of Arab children books was created to celebrate Friendship Week! It includes books and a movie to enjoy while observing this holiday.
As we begin this week celebrating people who we choose to surround ourselves with in our life, I am reminded of this Anyomous quote I like to share with my kids:
“It doesn’t matter who hurt you, or who broke you down, what matters is who made you smile again.”
To help my kids observe this week, I’ve pulled out a few books from our shelf (many on this list of 99 Arab Children Books if they are in #OwnVoice or on this list of books about the Arab world if they are educational) and we’ll be reading one each night.
One our 7th night, to end our week with a blast, we’ll have a friendship party. We’ll invite some friends over, share a movie and popcorn and giggle the night away.
Feel free to click on any of these books and read along with us! Our flick pick is at the end.
Abdullah, Shaila M. My Friend Suhana: A Story of Friendship and Cerebral Palsy
Award-winning author and designer Shaila Abdullah teams up with her 10-year-old daughter Aanyah to bring you this heartwarming tale of a little girl who forms a close bond with a child with cerebral palsy. The girl finds that through her art, she can reach her special friend Suhana.
Azzoubi, Rana. Through a Mud Wall
Rana Azzoubi’s new book, Through a Mud Wall, is a gripping and fun story about four children, living in the country of Jordan, who embark on an adventure bigger than they could have ever imagined. Nadia and Walid, typical of their age, delight in being with their friends, keeping secrets from adults, and discovering new places. During a family get-together, on their grandfather’s mountain farm, they join with their two cousins to explore a cave, which the farm-keeper had warned them to stay away from. After mischievously fooling the adults, they manage to get inside the cave, where they stumble upon a fake wall. They are anxious to discover what secret lies beyond this wall, but first they must do some detective work, to find out who might have used the cave long ago. In their excitement, the children imagine that the secret may even be gold, hidden away for ages. Partly based upon the author’s own background, Through a Mud Wall is a charming story appropriate for children aged seven through twelve. Filled with lighthearted humor and interesting factual information, it helps readers of all ages and nationalities learn about life in Jordan.
Bahous, S. Sitti and the Cats: A Tale of Friendship.
This version of a traditional Palestinian folktale reflects values of friendship and community, allowing the errant member to correct her ways and return to society. Boxed notes on almost every page provide interesting information about the land, language, foods, and family customs.
Bunting, Eve. One Green apple.
Young immigrant Farah gains self-confidence when the green apple she spicks perfectly complements the other students red apples. Illustrated by Ted Lewin.
Colfer, Eoin. Benny and Omar.
Two very different cultures collide in this hilarious book about a young sports fanatic named Benny who is forced to leave his home in Ireland and move with his family to Tunisia. He wonders how he will survive in such an unfamiliar place. Then he teams up with wild and resourceful Omar, and a madcap friendship between the two boys leads to trouble, escapades, a unique way of communicating, and ultimately, a heartbreaking challenge.
Hamilton, Martha. The Well of Truth: A Folktale from Egypt.
The Well of Truth is a humorous Egyptian folktale told by Mitch Weiss and Martha Hamilton about three great friends, Goat, Rooster, and Donkey. All three friends love the sweet taste of clover. One day, they decide to try their hand at farming, and they plant an entire field of clover. They patiently tend to the field and wait for the crop to grow large enough to harvest. Unfortunately, Donkey becomes impatient and one night sneaks out into the field to taste the clover. However, he can’t stop at just a taste and eventually eats the entire field. The friends wake up to find the field wiped out and accuse Donkey, who of course denies eating the clover. They all agree to go to the Well of Truth to find out who actually ate the clover, and the Donkey’s guilt is exposed. This Egyptian story shows that selfishness and greed are futile; readers will learn the importance of sharing and fairness.
Haswaréy, Shaylene. The Hijabi Club.
Josephine and Yasmeen are Muslim American girls living in Orange County, California. Josephine is co-founder of the Interfaith Club at her school. She is an outgoing teenager who loves hosting slumber parties with her friends, working on community service projects, coming up with fun ideas, and trying to live the way God wants her to live. A Caucasian American, Josephine lives with her single mom. Yasmeen is Arab American and the oldest of five children. She wants to live the teenage dream before she graduates from high school. She does not agree with how her family has raised her, and thinks it is unfair that she doesn’t get to experience the freedom other kids her age enjoy. She can’t wait to graduate and move away from home. Her goal is to become a cosmetologist. This delightful novel is filled with fun, happiness and heartaches, trials and turmoil, and important life lessons that Josephine, Yasmeen, and their friends experience throughout their teenage years. Josephine and Yasmeen come from distinctly different backgrounds, but they join their girlfriends every Friday night for great times in The Hijabi Club!
Marsh, Katherine. Nowhere Boy.
Fourteen-year-old Ahmed is stuck in a city that wants nothing to do with him. Newly arrived in Brussels, Belgium, Ahmed fled a life of uncertainty and suffering in Aleppo, Syria, only to lose his father on the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. Now Ahmed’s struggling to get by on his own, but with no one left to trust and nowhere to go, he’s starting to lose hope. Then he meets Max, a thirteen-year-old American boy from Washington, D.C. Lonely and homesick, Max is struggling at his new school and just can’t seem to do anything right. But with one startling discovery, Max and Ahmed’s lives collide and a friendship begins to grow. Together, Max and Ahmed will defy the odds, learning from each other what it means to be brave and how hope can change your destiny. Set against the backdrop of the Syrian refugee crisis, award-winning author of Jepp, Who Defied the Stars Katherine Marsh delivers a gripping, heartwarming story of resilience, friendship and everyday heroes. Barbara O’Connor, author of Wish and Wonderland, says “Move Nowhere Boy to the top of your to-be-read pile immediately.”
Marston, Elsa. The Olive Tree.
The house next door to Sameer’s had been empty for as long as he could remember. The family had gone away when the war began. But now they were back, and he was ready to have fun with his new playmate. Together they could climb the big olive tree that overlooked both their gardens, and eat the delicious olives it produced. The only problem was that Muna, the little girl next door, didn’t want to play and she didn’t want to share the olives. She said they belonged to her family alone―that is, until one fateful night when lightning struck the tree.
Mohammad, Khadra. Four Feet, Two Sandals.
When relief workers bring used clothing to the refugee camp, everyone scrambles to grab whatever they can. Ten-year-old Lina is thrilled when she finds a sandal that fits her foot perfectly, until she sees that another girl has the matching shoe. But soon Lina and Feroza meet and decide that it is better to share the sandals than for each to wear only one.
Nagda, Ann W. Dear Whiskers.
Jenny is discouraged when her second grade penpal turns out to be a new student from Saudi Arabia who does not speak English very well, but as she works with her they slowly become friends.
Nuurali, Siman Sadiq and the Desert Star.
When Sadiq’s father leaves on a business trip, he worries he’ll miss his baba too much. But Baba has a story for Sadiq: the story of the Desert Star. Learning about Baba’s passion for the stars sparks Sadiq’s interest in outer space. But can Sadiq find others who are willing to help him start the space club of his dreams?
Nye, Naomi Shihab. Habibi.
The day after Liyana got her first real kiss, her life changed forever. Not because of the kiss, but because it was the day her father announced that the family was moving from St. Louis all the way to Palestine. Though her father grew up there, Liyana knows very little about her family’s Arab heritage. Her grandmother and the rest of her relatives who live in the West Bank are strangers, and speak a language she can’t understand. It isn’t until she meets Omer that her homesickness fades. But Omer is Jewish, and their friendship is silently forbidden in this land. How can they make their families understand? And how can Liyana ever learn to call this place home?
Orme, Jamal. Victory Boys.
Junayd and his friends think madrasa is a waste of time, and older brother Saleem is fast becoming the black sheep of the family. That is, until the Imam of the mosque initiates an extra-curricular project outside his comfort zone. But can faith and football flourish side-by-side?
Sharafeddine, Fatima & Samar Mahfouz Barraj. Ghady & Rawan.
Ghady and Rawan is a heartfelt and timely novel by the award-winning author Fatima Sharafeddine (The Servant, Cappuccino) and Samar Mahfouz Barraj. The novel follows the close-knit friendship of two Lebanese teenagers, Ghady, who lives with his family in Belgium, and Rawan, who lives in Lebanon. Ghady’s family travels every summer to Beirut, where Ghady gets to spend all his time with Rawan and their other friends, enjoying their freedom from school. During the rest of the year, he and Rawan keep in touch by email. Through this correspondence, we learn about the daily ups and downs of their lives in Brussels and Beirut, including Ghady’s homesickness and his struggles with racism at school, as well as Rawan’s changing relationship to her family. The novel offers a glimpse into the lives of Lebanese adolescents while exploring a range of topics relevant to young people everywhere: bullying, parental conflicts, racism, belonging and identity, and peer pressure. Through the connection between the two main characters, Sharafeddine and Mahfouz Barraj show how the love and support of a good friend can help you through difficulties as well as sweeten life’s triumphs and good times.
Our movie will be the award winner Captain Abu Raed, directed by Amin Matalqa.
Filmed in Aman, Jordan, Captain Abu Raed is a universal story of friendship, inspiration and heroism set in contemporary Jordan. The first dramatic independent feature film to come out of Jordan in the last 50 years. Abu Raed is an aging airport janitor who has always yearned of seeing the world but has never been able to afford to travel. One day a group of children in his poor neighborhood assume he is a pilot and beg him to share stories of the world outside of Amman, Jordan. Through imaginary tales a friendship forms and he finds the grim realities of the children’s home life. He takes it upon himself to make a difference.