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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Children's literature about Palestinians/ Arab culture

We had considered attending a Girl Scout event at school where admission was a new or gently used book to donate to the school district. Other things intervened, so we didn't go, but I thought about what I would have liked to donate and may yet still. 

Arabs are under represented in literature and human interest stories and over represented in coverage of terrorist acts and war, so this got me thinking and searching. I didn't come up with a ton, but I suppose I could still donate to the school district or public library. Or just get for my own kids for summer or supplementary reading...

Elementary:

One City, Two Brothers by Chris Smith......................ages 6 and up
The Butter Man by Elizabeth Alalou & Ali Alalou .....Kindergarten and up
Sitti's Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye .........................ages 5 and up
Snow in Jerusalem by Deborah DeCosta ...................ages 6-10
Mystery Bottle by Kristen Balouch ............................K - grade 3


Late Elementary- Middle School:

Figs and Fate (5 short stories) by Elsa Marston ......grades 4-8
A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird ....... grades 4 and up (ages 9 and up)
The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust ............................................................ grade 3 and up (age 8 and up)
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Running on Eggs by Anna Levine .......................grades 5 and up (ages 10 and up)
Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye ...................................grades 5-9
A Bottle in the Gaza Sea by Valerie Zennatti ............grades 6-8
If You Could Be My Friend by Mervet A. Sha'ban.....grades 6-10
A Stone in My Hand by Cathryn Clinton ...........grades 6 and up (ages 11 and up)


Also interesting for a classroom, maybe...


I guess high school suggestions might be the same as adult suggestions? I have no idea.

Mornings In Jenin by Susan Abulhawa
Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak
maybe Miral... you could do a movie compare/contrast...
Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber (The Language of Baklava or Aarbian Jazz may also be good)
It's Easier to Reach Heaven Than the End of the Street: A Jerusalem Memoir by Emma Williams
The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

***
Edit 3/12/12: Some very good points recently were made with regard to the wrong and right way to do things of this nature. I agree completely. 

If I'm (or you're) going to donate, I will definitely have to go about it in the correct way so as not to just drop books in administrators' lap for them to possibly interpret as some sort of a sinister agenda. I don't know that I necessarily have the tools for this, so maybe I will just buy some for my own kids...


The donation(s) would, I suppose, need to be in the context of a dialogue about diversity (in a broader sense than maybe we tend to think about). We need to discuss and read about Arabs who aren't engaged in terrorism -get beyond the stereotype- since we have been engaged in the Middle East more prominently since ~2001. A general trend with various wars we have been engaged in  is that we tend to see more people from those regions in the US in later years. I think it would benefit everyone to get a complete picture of the people we generally see portrayed in only one way in this country.


I don't know that donating one book would have an ill effect- which was more in line with my original thought that kind of turned into... what if all these were available for kids and teachers... Oh well. I will keep brainstorming I guess- I can't stop thinking sometimes. They aren't all good ideas, but maybe I'll hit on something one day.


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