7 Children’s Books With Arab Main Characters You Will Love

Now is the perfect time to introduce your children to the many cultures and traditions of the Arab community. These books will help you do just that!

Diversity Recommendations Young Readers
Three book covers.

What’s the phrase? “April showers bring May flowers”? While April is known as the start of spring for many, a lot of us may not know it’s also National Arab American Month. According to the Arab American Institute, there are 3.7 million Arab Americans, coming from various countries around the world such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt. The following books are great options for parents who would like to teach their children about Arab history and culture.

1. The Night Before Eid: A Muslim Family Story by Aya Khalil

Grandma hugging grandson.
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On the night before Eid, Zain joins his mother and Teita (grandma) in making his favorite sweet treat, ka’ak. While helping his mother and Teita, Zain and his family take part in prayers and songs and share stories of their Egyptian history. Khalil’s book is an endearing story of teaching and carrying on tradition, perfect for educating your kids on Arab culture. The book also shares the ka’ak recipe so you and your family can try making your own! The recommended age for this book is 4 to 8 years old.

2. The Gift of Ramadan by Rabiah York Lumbard

Guardian and child cooking together.
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When little Sophia expresses her wish to participate in Ramadan by fasting, her loving grandmother tells her that fasting helps a person shine and sparkle. But when Sophia’s attempt fails, she tries to find a new way to join in on Ramadan. This book shares the story of multiple generations and how they create their own traditions for Ramadan. The recommended age for this book is 4 to 8 years old.

3. The Arabic Quilt by Aya Khalil

Young girl writing in a book.
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In this heartwarming story of acceptance, readers are introduced to Kanzi. Kanzi is an Egyptian student who just moved to America. Afraid she won’t fit in on her first day, Kanzi forgets the kofta sandwich her mother makes her. When Mama shows up to school with the sandwich and wearing her hijab, the teasing starts soon after. When her teacher discovers the poem Kanzi wrote about her grandmother’s quilt the day after being teased, her teacher gets the students excited by having them participate in making a quilt paper collage. Soon, Kanzi fits right in with everyone else.

4. The Great Labne Trade by Eman Saleh

Young boy waving bye to grandma.
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When Ahmed feels self-conscious about taking his labne sandwiches to school, his grandmother comes to the rescue. His grandma teaches him to embrace his heritage and to share his culture with others as well. But when Ahmed decides to bring labne sandwiches for everyone, chaos ensues in the lunch room, and Ahmed is taught his first lesson in business. This book is recommended for children 5 to 12 years old.

5. Deep in the Sahara by Kelly Cunnane

Women and children walking.
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Lalla lives in Mauritania with her family. In Mauritania, Muslim women wear malafas, including Lalla’s mother and sister. Lalla expresses she wants to wear a malafa, but her mother doesn’t agree until Lalla realizes that a malafa is for more than just covering your body and face but to connect you with your faith. Once she finally understands, Lalla’s mother drapes her in a gorgeous blue cloth, and they pray together. This would be a great book for explaining the importance and meaning of head coverings to your children. The recommended age for this book is 4 to 8 years old.

6. Lailah’s Lunchbox by Reem Faruqi

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Lailah recently moved to a country and started a new school. When Ramadan starts, Lailah is so excited because she is finally old enough to fast with her family, but she’s nervous her new peers won’t understand why she won’t be eating lunch with them. When her teacher and librarian chip in to help her, Lailah realizes she can make friends who accept her for who she is. This delightful story comes to life with bright illustrations, making it memorable for children. The recommended age for this book is 6 to 12 years old.

7. The Carpet: An Afghan Family Story by Dezh Azaad

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This touching book shares the story of an Afghan refugee child, where everything is centered around family, love, and a carpet that reminds them of home. This carpet is where the family tells stories, shares meals, and laughs together. Sharing stories from his own personal life, Azaad teaches readers that a home is not always a place but sometimes just a feeling. The recommended age for this book is 4 to 8 years old.

Whether or not you’re Arab, these books would be a great way to introduce your children to different cultures and beliefs. Not only would these books work for National Arab American Month but they teach great lessons that can be valuable all year round.


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