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The Arab/Muslim World: How It Looks in Books for American Children | Marston | The Looking Glass : New Perspectives on Children's Literature. Alice's Academy Elizabeth L. Pandolfo Briggs, editor The Arab/Muslim World: How It Looks in Books for American Children Elsa Marston Elsa Marston grew up in Massachusetts.

She attended Vassar College for two years and finished her BA in American civilization at the University of Iowa. A lot of my writing is about the Middle East and Arab-Americans. Whenever things really heat up in the Middle East, we hear a familiar refrain in the U.S.: Americans don't know enough about those countries--we really ought to know more. As a children's author who has specialized in writing about the Middle East for more than 25 years, I couldn't agree more. How to take a significant step toward lessening that culture gap?

Fortunately, thanks to the surge of interest in multicultural literature starting 15 to 20 years ago, today there is far more available than in even the very recent past. Several publishers produce factual "country" books, which typically are both attractive and reasonably accurate. 20 Children's Books set in the Middle East & Northern Africa. August is Middle Eastern and Northern African Heritage Month! It serves to celebrate the rich history and diverse cultures of this vast region, stretching from Morocco in the West to Iran in the East, from Syria in the North to Sudan in the South. Here are some wonderful books to introduce your children to the Middle East and Northern Africa: 20 Children’s Books set in the Middle East & Northern Africa Morocco My Father’s Shopby Satomi Ichikawa Mustafa loves a particular rug in his father’s shop. It has a hole, so he can put it over his head and still see out. The Butter Manby Elizabeth Alalou As Nora’s Moroccan-born father prepares a couscous meal, he talks about his childhood in the High Atlas Mountains.

Algeria Sabbath Lion: A Jewish Folktale from Algeriaby Howard Schwartz Yosef’s widowed mother gets news of a family inheritance in Egypt. Libya The Shadows of Ghadamesby Joelle Stolz 12-year-old Malika yearns to travel like her merchant father. Egypt We’re Sailing Down the Nileby Laurie Krebs. Book List: Picture Books about Muslim or Middle Eastern Characters. In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a lot of talk lately about the need for more diversity in books. We already know that the population of the United States is rapidly changing, and people have been demanding books that reflect this. From the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign to this recent article from School Library Journal, the demand for diverse titles grows louder every day. One category we often get asked about is recommendations of books featuring Middle Eastern and Muslim characters, so we thought we’d put together a list of some favorites: Note that we have not read every book on this list, so we always recommend doing some of your own research to determine cultural accuracy.

A great place to find top-quality books is the Middle East Book Award, the Bridging Cultures Muslim Journeys Bookshelf, and this recent School Library Journal article. And if you have any additions, please do leave them in the comments! More book lists: Children’s Books About Transracial Adoption. Persepolis - Exclusive: Marjane Satrapi. The Arab/Muslim World: How It Looks in Books for American Children | Marston | The Looking Glass : New Perspectives on Children's Literature.