Amazing Children’s Books by Arab and Arab American Authors

by Dena McMurdie

April means it’s time for warmer weather, rain showers, and Arab American Heritage Month. There are many extraordinary authors of Arab heritage, and now is an excellent time to pick up their books and read them with your kids. Whether you have young children, tweens, or teens, here are some of the best books from Arab American authors to dive into this month.

  • Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers

    by Uma Mishra-Newbery and Lina Al-Hathloul, illustrated by Rebecca Green

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    Pick up this vibrant picture book for a story about equal opportunity, perseverance, and dreaming big. It is inspired by the Nobel Peace Prize nominee Loujain Al-Hathloul, who fought for driving rights for women. In the story, young Loujain sees her father flying and dreams of joining him in the air. Even though girls are not allowed to fly in their country, Loujain’s father teaches her. The gorgeous illustrations and powerful message make this book unforgettable.
    (Ages 4 - 8)

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  • The Cat Man of Aleppo

    by Karim Shamsi-Basha and Irene Latham, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu

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    During Syria’s Civil War, homeless cats wander the empty, silent streets. Wanting to help, Alaa opens his home to the cats and cares for the abandoned creatures. But there are too many cats and only one Alaa. Thankfully, his story inspires people around the world to send help and donations. This Caldecott Honor-winning picture book is based on the true story of a man who stayed in his war-torn city to care for the cats.
    (Ages 4 - 8)

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  • The Green Bicycle

    by Haifaa Al Mansour

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    Even though girls aren’t supposed to ride bikes in Saudi Arabia, that doesn’t stop eleven-year-old Wadjda from dreaming about it. She works hard to save money to purchase a bike, but her plans derail when her school threatens to expel her. This story is inspiring, heartfelt, and thought-provoking — the perfect read for Arab American Heritage Month!
    (Ages 10+)

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  • Muzoon: A Syrian Refugee Speaks Out

    by Muzoon Almellehan and Wendy Pearlman

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    Muzoon Almellehan shares her personal story in this memoir for young readers. When her family fled their home in Syria, they could only take necessities. For Muzoon, this included her schoolbooks. Readers will be fascinated by Muzoon’s inspiring story of living in a refugee camp, pursuing an education, and becoming a respected advocate for people in similar situations. Her story inspires readers to value their freedoms and not take education for granted.
    (Ages 10+)

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  • Spice Road

    by Maiya Ibrahim

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    Magic, romance, and adventure combine in this breathtaking YA fantasy novel from an Arab Australian author! Imani is a magical warrior trained to protect her city from djinn and monsters. So when the Council hires her to capture her traitorous brother, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the task. YA readers can’t get enough of this stunning series opener!
    (Young Adult)

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  • Man o' War

    by Cory McCarthy

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    River is an Irish and Lebanese American trans-nonbinary athlete who has felt trapped like fish in an aquarium. Then they meet Indy, an openly queer classmate who evokes feelings within River so intense that they jump into a literal shark tank. What follows is a 15-year journey of self-discovery and acceptance that so realistically mirrors the experiences of many trans people. Full of emotion and joy, this beautiful blend of romance and coming-of-age is an absolute must-read.
    (Young Adult)

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  • Home Is Not a Country

    by Safia Elhillo

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    Safia Elhillo won several prestigious awards, including the Arab American Book Award, with her YA novel-in-verse about a teen who doesn’t fit in. Nima feels out of place at home, at school, and in her neighborhood. As she grapples with her identity, Nima learns to lean on her family and embrace her unique qualities. Elhillo’s beautiful, lyrical verse creates a heartfelt portrait of a young woman learning to accept herself.
    (Young Adult)

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  • From Here

    by Luma Mufleh

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    Get ready for a powerful and heart-wrenching memoir about a young gay woman growing up in Jordan. Her account will keep YA readers riveted, from discovering her sexuality to immigrating to the United States and seeking asylum. Along the way, she discovers the meaning of family, home, and freedom.
    (Young Adult)

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  • Huda F Are You?

    by Huda Fahmy

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    This humorous graphic novel is the perfect choice for anyone who has suffered from an identity crisis (haven’t we all?). When her family moves to a small town in Michigan, Huda goes from being one of a few Muslim kids at school to one of many. Suddenly, she doesn’t know where she fits in and struggles to make friends. Huda soon realizes that the only way to survive her new school is by being her authentic self.
    (Young Adult)

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  • Bright Red Fruit

    by Safia Elhillo

    YA readers trying to find their place in society will appreciate this gorgeous novel-in-verse from the award-winning author of Home Is Not A Country. When a rumor destroys Samira’s reputation, and her parents ground her, she turns to the only outlet she has left — poetry. As she gets further into the world of slam poetry, Samira must decide how much of herself to give to her art, her heritage, and a new romance.
    (Young Adult)

    (On sale: 2/6/2024)