#ReadYourWorld Book Jam 2023 in partnership with Children’s Book Council is excited to present Nora Lester Murad with her book list of Palestinian books for kids recommended by Palestinian teachers.
We are also giving away three signed copies of Ida in the Middle. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter at the bottom.
Palestinian Books for Kids Recommended by Palestinian Teachers
Ida in the Middle by Nora Lester Murad
It isn’t hard to find coming-of-age stories on YA bookshelves, but it isn’t always easy to find those stories told from diverse points of view. Enter Ida in the Middle, a book that follows Ida, a Palestinian-American girl who faces backlash and ridicule from many of her classmates whenever violence erupts in the Middle East as if it were her fault. An important coming-of-age story that explores identity, place, voice, and acceptance, this unique novel is told from the largely underrepresented perspective of a young Palestinian American girl who, like all other teens, is just trying to find out where she belongs. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
Sitti’s Bird: A Gaza Story by Malak Mattar
Katherine Hanna is a Palestinian-American, retired Boston elementary educator who volunteers her time at the Zaharat al Yasmeen Kindergarten in Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. Katherine wholeheartedly recommends Sitti’s Bird, written and illustrated by Malak Mattar. She says, “This stunning and engaging book is based on the life experiences of Malak who, as a child, lived through Israel’s 2014 “Operation Protective Edge” that bombed the Gaza Strip for nearly 2 months. Young readers will relate to the universal feelings of loneliness, loss, fear, and love of family, without being terrified by brutality. This is a great book for introducing young children to Palestine and how making art helped build Malak’s resilience. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Baba, What Does My Name Mean? A Journey To Palestine by Rifk Ebeid, illustrated by Lamaa Jawhari
Mona Mustafa, a high school social studies teacher in Paterson, New Jersey recommends Baba, What Does My Name Mean? A Journey To Palestine written by Rifk Ebeid and illustrated by Lamaa Jawhari. She says, “This book is a true work of art that takes readers on a journey through Palestine’s brave and beautiful cities on the wings of a dove named Salaam. The main character, Saamidah, is told by her father that her name means one who is steadfast, a characteristic that has become synonymous with the Palestinian people. This book inspired me to take my children on the same journey through the cities that Saamidah went on while visiting Palestine this summer!” Mona can be reached on Instagram @monammustafa. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Sitti and the Cats: A Tale of Friendship by Sally Bahous, illustrated by Nancy Malick
Layla Hijab Cable is a retired reading specialist and kindergarten teacher in the Boston Public Schools. She helped develop the Boston Focus on K2 which has been adopted in 100 kindergarten classes in Boston and in many other systems, helped organize Ethnic Studies Now practices and volunteered for the Boston Teachers Union doing antiracism work with teachers. Layla recommends the Palestinian folk tale Sitti and the Cats: A Tale of Friendship by Sally Bahous, illustrated by Nancy Malick. She says, “Children enjoy the fantastical and magical world of talking cats as they learn about companionship, generosity, and community values without preaching or scolding. They learn about Palestinian culture and life through native plants, foods, and clothing. I used it with my own kindergarten classes and with my older reading students in 1st to 3rd grades.” [picture book, ages 6 and up]
Sitti’s Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye, illustrations by Nancy Carpente
Hadeil M. Abdelfattah, Ed.D. is a lifelong educator and administrator in the Chicago Public Schools with over 25 years of experience. Hadeil recommends Sitti’s Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye with illustrations by Nancy Carpenter. Hadeil says, “The book offers vivid images of the bond between a grandmother and her grandchildren, which is stronger than any language barrier. A little girl meets her grandmother for the first time and sees all the things that the land of Palestine has to offer. From getting bread from the traditional taboun bakery or walking the fields or sitting in the shade of the lemon tree in the courtyard, Sitti’s Secrets reminded me of my childhood!” Hadeil can be reached on Instagram at @hadeilsopener. [picture book, ages 5 and up]
Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel Fattah
Kefah Ayesh, a high school English teacher and department chair, recommends Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel Fattah. She says it is “A beautiful, well-written story about a young girl navigating the nuances of hyphenated identities without sacrificing pride in her religious beliefs. The main character attends a prep school in Australia where she is shunned and ridiculed for wearing her hijab. The story highlights the complexities of self-worth, identity, and teenage love. Relatable enough for both hijabis and non-muslim readers who need insight into the experience of women who wear hijab. Overall a fun read and a well-developed story line.” [middle grade, ages 9 and up]
Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine by Ibtisam Barakat
Abeer Ramadan-Shinnawi is an ed consultant for Altair Education Company in Maryland and a veteran middle school social studies teacher. She recommends Balcony on the Moon: Coming of Age in Palestine by Ibtisam Barakat. She says, “This story shows how young navigate growing up in a region fraught by political strife and how important it is for young people to have key masters who help them develop their dreams.”Abeer can be reached on Instagram at altairedconsult or on Twitter at @ed_altair. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
They Called Me a Lioness: A Palestinian Girl’s Fight for Freedom by Ahed Tamimi and Dena Takruri
Dr. Sawsan Jaber is a Chicago-based high school English teacher, a consultant with Education Unfiltered, and a scholar/activist with many organizations. Sawsan recommends They Called Me a Lioness: A Palestinian Girl’s Fight for Freedom by Ahed Tamimi and Dena Takruri. She says, “I love the fact that the story is told from the perspective of an adolescent female. I love how the authors weave information throughout the story. People generally know so little about Palestine. Integrating the definitions of words and explaining the historical context helps to contextualize the memoir so that it has a greater impact on readers, helping them to understand Palestine and Palestinian perspectives. Sawsan can be reached on Twitter at @SJEducate. [young adult, ages 14 and up]
3 Signed Copies of Ida in the Middle GIVEAWAY!
We are also giving away three signed copies of Ida in the Middle. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below. We can only mail to U.S. and A.F.O. addresses.
Nora Lester Murad is a writer, educator, and activist. She co-authored Rest in My Shade: A Poem About Roots, and edited I Found Myself in Palestine: Stories of Love and Renewal From Around the Globe. From a Jewish American family, Nora moved from California to study in the Middle East. She married a Muslim Palestinian, and raised three daughters in the West Bank and in the US. To learn more visit her website and follow her on Twitter @NoraInPalestine, Instagram @nora_lester_murad, and Facebook noralestermurad.
Join us for our Read Your World Virtual Party
Thursday, January 26, 2023
9:00 – 10:00 pm EST
We will be giving away 14+ book bundles!
Leanna Mora says
I actually don’t know many children’s books about Palestine, so I can’t wait to read these!
Nora Lester Murad says
Kellyanne Healey says
I’ve been looking to expand my library’s children’s and young adult collections with books by authors from and taking place in countries outside of the US, especially since we have a number of recent immigrants from the Middle East (various countries). Thank you for this opportunity and great curation!
Nora Lester Murad says
I’m glad you find the list helpful, Kellyanne. We’ll actually be putting out a longer recommended list soon so there are more recommendations for different age groups. Stay tuned or sign up for my newsletter on my blog site to be notified.
I am so looking forward to reading and sharing, Ida in the Middle, by Nora Lester Murad!
Nora Lester Murad says
This warms my heart! Please consider leaving an honest review on Amazon (which matters, unfortunately) and Goodreads. Books about Palestine need help getting visibility 🙂
Mia Wenjen says
We received a comment that wasn’t approved because 1) we are not subject matter experts on this topic, and 2) we were concerned that it might harm Palestinians. To create a learning opportunity for all of us, we put the commenter in touch with Nora Lester Murad, the author of the blog post, for further discussion. We are happy to post the results of their conversation if they both decide mutually to share it with us.
Mia Wenjen says
We directed the person who left the comment to the author along with the author’s email address and an invitation to reach out for further discussion. We followed up with the author and discovered that the person who left the comment did not contact the author. In light of that, we are closing the loop by not making her comment public as we hoped for further learning but without this discussion, the comment was deemed not to be constructive.
Maria Adcock says
I am not familiar with Palestinian kids books. Thanks for the thorough list!
Nora Lester Murad says
There are 38 books on our curated list of Palestinian children’s books! If you want me to notify you when the list is published (soon!), please sign up for my newsletter at http://www.IdaInTheMiddle.com.