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Arab and Middle Eastern Heritage Month: Book List


Loujain Dreams of Sunflowers

By Uma Mishra-Newbery and Lina AlHathloul

Loujain watches her beloved baba attach his feather wings and fly each morning, but her own dreams of flying face a big obstacle: only boys, not girls, are allowed to fly in her country. Yet despite the taunts of her classmates, she is determined to do it--especially because Loujain loves colors, and only by flying can she see the color-filled field of sunflowers her baba has told her about. Eventually, he agrees to teach her, and Loujain's impossible dream becomes reality--and soon other girls dare to learn to fly.


Based on the experiences of co-author Lina AlHathloul's sister, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Loujain AlHathloul, who led the successful campaign to lift Saudi Arabia's ban on women driving, this moving and gorgeously illustrated story reminds us to strive for the changes we want to see—and to never take for granted women's and girls' freedoms.



Mystery Bottle

By Kristen Balouch

When a boy in Brooklyn opens a mysterious bottle he received from Iran, a gust of wind suddenly blows him over the oceans and mountains, straight into the arms of his grandfather, and despite being separated by politics and geography, the boy and his Baba Bazorg share the bond of their love.



Nour's Secret Library

By Wafa’ Tarnowska

Forced to take shelter when their Syrian city is plagued with bombings, young Nour and her cousin begin to bravely build a secret underground library. Based on the author's own life experience and inspired by a true story, Nour's Secret Library is about the power of books to heal, transport and create safe spaces during difficult times.



Salma the Syrian Chef

By Ahmad Danny Ramadan

All Salma wants is to make her mama smile again. Between English classes, job interviews, and missing Papa back in Syria, Mama always seems busy or sad. A homemade Syrian meal might cheer her up, but Salma doesn’t know the recipe, or what to call the vegetables in English, or where to find the right spices! Luckily, the staff and other newcomers in her Welcome Home are happy to lend a hand—and a sprinkle of sumac.



The Shape of Home

By Kheiriyeh, Rashin

It's Rashin's first day of school in America! Everything is a different shape than what she's used to: from the foods on her breakfast plate to the letters in the books! And the kids' families are from all over! The new teacher asks each child to imagine the shape of home on a map. Rashin knows right away what she'll say: Iran looks like a cat! What will the other kids say? What about the country YOUR family is originally from? Is it shaped like an apple? A boot? A torch? Open this book to join Rashin in discovering the true things that shape a place called home.



My Name Is Bana

By Bana Alabed

Bana's mother tells her of the strong bana tree that grows in their homeland, Syria, and how Bana's strength helped her survive war, being a refugee, and starting fresh in a new country.



The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family

By Ibtihaj Muhammad with S. K. Ali

With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It's the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it's her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab--a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.



That’s Not My Name!

By Anoosha Syed

Mirha is so excited for her first day of school! She can't wait to learn, play, and make new friends. But when her classmates mispronounce her name, she goes home wondering if she should find a new one. Maybe then she'd be able to find a monogrammed keychain at the gas station or order a hot chocolate at the cafe more easily.


Mama helps Mirha to see how special her name is, and she returns to school the next day determined to help her classmates say it correctly—even if it takes a hundred tries.



The Day of Ahmed’s Secret

By Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland

A young Egyptian boy describes the city of Cairo as he goes about his daily work and waits for the evening to share a special surprise with his family.



The Turtle of Oman

By Naomi Shihab Nye

When Aref, a third-grader who lives in Muscat, Oman, refuses to pack his suitcase and prepare to move to Michigan, his mother asks for help from his grandfather, his Siddi, who takes Aref around the country, storing up memories he can carry with him to a new home.



Proud: Young Readers Edition

By Ibtihaj Muhammad

At the 2016 Olympic Games, Ibtihaj Muhammad smashed barriers as the first American to compete wearing hijab, and she made history as the first Muslim American woman to win a medal. But before she was an Olympian, activist, and entrepreneur, Ibtihaj was a young outsider trying to find her place.


Ibtihaj's inspiring journey from humble beginnings to the international stage is told in her own words and enhanced with helpful advice and never-before-published photographs. Proud is an all-American tale of faith, family, hard work, and self-reliance.



Other Words for Home

By Jasmine Warga

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.


At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before.


But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.



The Shape of Thunder

By Jasmine Warga

Cora hasn’t spoken to her best friend, Quinn, in a year. Despite living next door to each other, they exist in separate worlds of grief. Cora is still grappling with the death of her beloved sister in a school shooting, and Quinn is carrying the guilt of what her brother did.


On the day of Cora’s twelfth birthday, Quinn leaves a box on her doorstep with a note. She has decided that the only way to fix things is to go back in time to the moment before her brother changed all their lives forever—and stop him.


In spite of herself, Cora wants to believe. And so the two former friends begin working together to open a wormhole in the fabric of the universe. But as they attempt to unravel the mysteries of time travel to save their siblings, they learn that the magic of their friendship may actually be the key to saving themselves.



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