December 18: ‘Read Arabic Day’

December 18 is “UN Arabic Language Day,” and organizations around the world are celebrating:

Lithuania is hosting a two-day “Arabų kultūros forumas,” UNESCO is focusing on “Arabic Language and Youth,” UNESCWA is focused on its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which seems a bit cheating, and the Beirut-based Bookoholics is hosting a “Read Arabic” week.

As Hoda Marmar writes over at the Facebook event:

To celebrate the Arabic Language Day on December 18, we would like to encourage readers all over the world to read Arabic books over the week extending from December 18 til 24, 2018. We would also want to hear about your experience on social media platforms, Facebook Bookoholics and Instagram @books.and.needles, where you may use the following hashtags: #arabic #readarabic #عربي #اليوم_العالمي_للغة_العربية #اقرأ_عربي

If you are comfortable reading Arabic, you can choose from thousands of available titles, including all the inexpensive ebooks that were made available for Kindle this year. If you’re not, we have a few suggestions.

Start today: language-learning apps

Antura and the letters / “عنتورة والحروف“: If you’re just getting started, or even just want to play around because it’s “Arabic Day,” this is a fun app, particularly for kids 4+.

Feed the Monster / “اطعام الوحش”: This is another sweet, child-oriented game where you learn while making your monster.

Duolingo Arabic is coming in 2019.

Books for beginners: new readers

Al Salwa chapter books are excellent easy readers for those who’ve got the basics down, but have a limited vocabulary. The stories are child-oriented, but they provide the satisfaction of having read something with a beginning, middle, and end.

The Mickey comic books published by Nahdet Misr. I wouldn’t admit to enjoying them, except I saw Alaa Abd El Fattah is reading them while in prison. Available on Neel w Furat and at all reputable kiosks in Cairo.

Books for early intermediate readers

There are a number of exciting middle-grade and YA novels written in an accessible style but with crossover content. These include: Thunderbird, by Sonia Nimr, the first in a Palestinian middle-grade time-traveling trilogy; Wonderful Journeys in Amazing Landsalso by Sonia Nimr, an Ibn Battuta-esque historical adventure across the region, led by a Palestinian girl; Fatima Sharafeddine and Samar Mahfouz Barraj’s co-authored Ghady & Rawan, a story-in-letters exchanged by two young teens; One Day The Sun Will Shine, by Taghreed Najjar, the story of a light-spirited Syrian girl and how post-2011 events change her; Against the Tide, also by Taghreed Najjar, based on the true story of a Palestinian teen fisher; Reem, by Ahmed Al-Mahdi, a YA horror fantasy.

Books for mid-intermediate readers

Laila Familiar has abridged a number of important Arabic works for language learners, including Saud Alsanousi’s International Prize for Arabic Fiction-winning Saq al-Bambuu and Hoda Barakat’s Sayyidi wa Habibi.

Other short, straightforward books for intermediate readers include Ibrahim Aslan’s‫حجرتان وصالة ‬ and Ahmed Khaled Tawfiq’s الآن نفتح الصندوق.