April 27, 2022
Written by Julia Sen, OLC Program Coordinator
April has flown by, but we didn’t want to let it end without acknowledging that it’s been Arab American Heritage Month!
We’ve put together a book list with books by Arab and Arab American authors, focusing on books for kids from birth to high school. Here you’ll find a wide range of #OwnVoices books that reflect the Arab and Arab American experience from picture books, to graphic novels, to middle grade chapter books and young adult memoirs. A few that we’re excited to share with you are: Arab Fairy Tale Feasts, in which author and storyteller Karim Alrawi combines original fairy tales with traditional favorite dishes (date filled cookies, anyone?), The Cat Man of Aleppo, a Caldecott winner and true story of Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, ambulance driver who created a safe haven for cats amidst Syria’s civil war, and This is All Your Fault by Aminah Mae Safi, a young adult novel which focuses on three young women determined to save their indie bookstore in LA.
The Arab American experience is far from monolithic: Arab is an ethno-linguistic category encompassing people from the 22 countries in the Arab League, plus 4 more where Arabic is one of the official languages. Many Arabs are Muslim, but not all Muslims are Arab, and there are many Arabs who are Christian, Jewish, Ba’hai, and more. For more info (and maps!), we love this slideshow Arab American Heritage Month, put together by OUSD.
One last note -after much consideration, we’ve chosen to call our list Arab and Middle Eastern American, in order to include authors from countries like Iran and Turkey, who don’t fit easily into any of our ever evolving and imperfectly named lists.