20+ Jinn Tails, Folktales and Myths Arab Children Books {Resource}

I love to collect Arab folktale children books about myths and jinns from the past and wanted to list a few favorites that I use at library story time.

Jinn (Arabic: الجن‎, al-jinn), are supernatural creatures in early pre-Islamic Arabian and later Islamic mythology and theology.

These are some of my favorite Arab folktales books, building up on a previous list 5+ Folktale Arab Children Books {Resource}

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Taibah, Nadia Jameel and Margaret Read MacDonald. Folktales from the Arabian Peninsula: Tales of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Coauthored by a renowned folklorist and a professor of education who recalls some of these poignant tales from her own childhood, the book opens with a discussion of the Arabian Peninsula that introduces each country and discusses its terrain, peoples, and current situation to provide important background information. The engaging stories that follow will serve elementary, junior high, and high school librarians as well as public librarians, professional storytellers, and folklorists. The tales themselves—many of which have never been published in English language children’s collections—are appropriate for readers grades five and up.

Campbell, CG. Folktales from Iraq.

Who would not shudder when entering the skeleton-lined cave of the queen of the dead? How would a young man and his sister escape from the prison of a treacherous sultan? How would a poor farmer gain the hand of the beautiful daughter of the wealthiest sheik? These and thirteen more tales are spun in this stunning collection of sixteen traditional stories from the Shia tribes of southern Iraq. Gathered in the late 1940s and deftly translated to capture the elegance of the originals, these tales are full of action, adventure, love, and humor and are sure to delight anyone who has ever fallen under the spell of the Scheherezade. Appearing here for the first time in paperback, the stories in Folktales from Iraq, each accompanied by specially commissioned engravings, allow the reader to travel to a distant, imaginary land swirling with great fortunes, terrifying predicaments, and quick-witted heroes.

Gilani, Fawzia. Sleeping Beauty: An Islamic Tale.

After the wicked Count Lahab promises to crush the young princess Mariam at her aqiqah, she is hidden within the king’s castle. Many peaceful years pass, but, upon news of Mariam’s wedding, they come to a piercing end. Count Lahab finds a way to deceive the castle and present her with a beautiful hijab pin, covered in poison, that leaves her in a deep, unbreakable sleep. After potions and prayers have no effect her husband, Haris, is told to go on a perilous journey to Makkah to pray for her recovery and bring back zam zam water for her to drink. But, faced by Count Lahab and his outlaws, what does his destiny hold?

Hamilton, Martha. Well of Truth: A Folktale from Egypt, The.

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.

Husain, Shahrukh. Wise Fool: Fables from the Islamic World

The riotous adventures and misadventures of Mulla Nasruddin introduce a new generation to one of the most-loved characters in the Muslim world. Nasruddin always has a twinkle in his eye, a sliver of wisdom in his ramblings, and a few good surprises up his sleeve!

Imady, Muna. Syrian Folktales.

This delightful book relates folktales from various regions of Syria. Each folktale is located on a regional map and is accompanied by a local, related recipe.

Johnson-Davies, Denys. Stories from the Arab Past.

Prolific translator Denys Johnson-Davies presents a colorful volume of twenty-one short stories adapted from well-known works of classical Arabic literature. Themes of generosity, honesty, and kindness are conveyed through both humor and irony.

Johnson-Davies, Denys. Goha the Wise Fool

Meet Goha, that funny little man with the faithful donkey, whose tales, beloved for their wit and wisdom, have been passed down through the streets of the smallest villages of the Middle East for centuries. Meet Goha, who in making us laugh at him, shows us—young and old everywhere— that we can laugh at ourselves.

Khoury, Najla Jraissaty. Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales.

While civil war raged in Lebanon, Najla Khoury traveled with a theater troupe, putting on shows in marginal areas where electricity was a luxury, in air raid shelters, Palestinian refugee camps, and isolated villages. Their plays were largely based on oral tales, and she combed the country in search of stories. Many years later, she chose one hundred stories from among the most popular and published them in Arabic in 2014, exactly as she received them, from the mouths of the storytellers who told them as they had heard them when they were children from their parents and grandparents. Out of the hundred stories published in Arabic, Inea Bushnaq and Najla Khoury chose thirty for this book.

Kimmel, Eric A. Three Princes.

A princess promises to marry the prince who finds the most precious treasure.

Kimmel, Eric A. Joha makes a wish: a Middle Eastern tale

On his way to Baghdad, Joha discovers a wishing stick. But how does it work? Joha makes some wishes, and the opposites come true. His old sandals disappear when he wishes for a new pair. He carries a donkey on his back after wishing for a donkey to carry him. And when the sultan gets hold of the stick, things really get out of control. How will Joha learn its secrets before he wishes himself into more trouble?

Laird, Elizabeth. A Fistful of Pearls and Other Tales.

Secret serpents, devilish demons, mysterious magicians — the folk tales of Iraq are filled with otherworldly creatures, enchantment, and earthy humor. During her time spent in the Middle East, award-winning novelist Elizabeth Laird gathered together the very best Iraqi stories, ranging from thieving porcupines who get their come-uppance to the hilarious tale of the chaos caused by a handsome stranger who knocks at a house harboring a marriageable daughter. Meticulously researched, these stories reveal the true, traditional heart of Iraq, far removed from today’s news headlines.

MacDonald, Margaret Read. How Many Donkeys?: An Arabic Counting Tale.

When Jouha counts the ten donkeys carrying his dates to market, he repeatedly forgets to count the one he is riding on, causing him great consternation. Includes numbers written out in Arabic and in English transliteration, as well as the numerals one through ten, and a note on the origins and other versions of the story.

MacDonald, Margaret Read. Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur!: A Palestinian Tale.

There was once a woman who had a little pot for a child. Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur!—that was the sound the pot made as it rolled everywhere. Unfortunately the pot wasn’t old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. That naughty pot ran off with things that did not belong to her until she learned her lesson . . . the hard way! In this retelling of a Palestinian folktale, children will discover that there are consequences for taking things that don’t belong to them.

Malaspina, Ann. Feraj and the Magic Lute: An Arabian Folktale.

Feraj has taken a lute he believes holds secrets of wealth, but his greed and impatience keep him from discovering these secrets.

Najjar, Taghreed. The Ghoul.

The villagers are afraid of the “Ghoul.” For years, they’ve tiptoed around the village for fear of disturbing it. The monster doesn’t look like them, and it is believed to eat humans. One day, the brave Hasan embarks on a dangerous mission to face the long-feared Ghoul. When Hasan finally meets the Ghoul living on top of the mountain, he discovers that the Ghoul is just as terrified of people as they are of him. Hasan and the Ghoul realize that they can still be friends, despite their differences. The Ghoul is a beautifully illustrated story that can be used as a springboard to discuss how we perceive those who are different and how our fears and prejudices may be built on false assumptions.

Nimr, Sonia. Ghaddar the Ghoul and Other Palestinian Stories.

Why do snakes eat frogs? What makes a man-eating ghoul become a vegetarian? How can a woman make a bored prince smile? And what’s a king to do when a princess refuses to marry him? The answers are found in this engaging compilation of Palestinian folk tales, cleverly retold by Sonia Nimr. The charismatic women, genial tricksters, mischievous animals, and other colorful characters who appear in the stories are imbued with a wry sense of humor, delighting readers young and old alike. Hannah Shaw’s deft illustrations are the perfect complement to Nimr’s upbeat storytelling.

Reynolds, Dwight. Arab Folklore: A Handbook.

The Arab world is constantly in the news. This book gives students and general readers an introduction to Arab culture by surveying the folklore of the region. The volume defines and classifies different types of folklore and provides a wide range of examples and texts. It looks at the critical and scholarly response to Arab folklore and the place of Arab folklore in contemporary culture. Included are references to numerous print and electronic works for further reading.

Tahhan. Samir. Folktales from Syria.

Syrian poet Samir Tahhan collected folktales from old men sitting outside their houses in Aleppo, drinking tea. Afraid these stories would disappear with the passing of this generation, Tahhan also went to halls and events to hear professional storytellers and record their performances. Anthropologist Andrea Rugh helped translate the resulting two volumes of stories from the original Arabic and wrote the informative introduction to this one-volume collection.

Todino-Gonguet, Grace. Halimah and the Snake.

In Halimah and the Snake, Grace Todino-Gonguet has collected and re-written a handful of stories from Oman’s folktale heritage. As with folktales and legends worldwide, the creatures and characters are at times terrifying and fantastic, the stories always enthralling, and invariably seek to impart some moral guidance to their young readers.

Turk, Evan. Storyteller, The

Long, long ago, like a pearl around a grain of sand, the Kingdom of Morocco formed at the edge of the great, dry Sahara. It had fountains of cool, refreshing water to quench the thirst of the desert, and storytellers to bring the people together. But as the kingdom grew, the people forgot the dangers of the desert, and they forgot about the storytellers, too. All but one young boy, who came to the Great Square for a drink and found something that quenched his thirst even better: wonderful stories. As he listened to the last storyteller recount the Endless Drought, and the Glorious Blue Water Bird, he discovered the power of a tale well told.

Weulersse, Odile. Nasreddine.

It’s time to go to market, so Nasreddine loads up the donkey and sets off with his father. But when onlookers criticize his father for riding while Nasreddine walks, the boy is ashamed. The following week, Nasreddine persuades his father to walk, and let him ride — but then people criticize the boy for making his father walk! No matter what Nasreddine tries, it seems that someone always finds something to disapprove of.


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99 Arab Children Books {Book Resource}

99 Muslim Children Books {Book Resource}

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