Arabic Literature for Young Readers: 10 Publishers to Know

As a way of marking #WorldKidLitMonth (which you can follow at @worldkidlit and, we are profiling 10 publishers that have a focus on children’s literature in Arabic. While some have been around since the 1980s and 90s, such as the Tamer Institute and Al Salwa Books, most are more recent.

Indeed, it has been in the last 20+ years, since around the turn of the century, that the landscape of Arabic children’s literature has burst into flower. Although there have long been comics and magazines that children enjoyed, the Arabic children’s books on offer before 2000 were often didactic, with uninspiring illustrations. Now, however, there is a vibrant landscape of literature for young readers with dozens of literary prizes, hundreds of publishers, and thousands of authors and illustrators.

Here, we offer quick glimpses of ten publishers from across the region — and in the UK.

Editor’s note: While all the titles below are translated, if you click, you’ll find them in the original.

1. Tamer Institute (Palestine)

Tamer Institute ( is one of only two institutions to have won the biggest prize in children’s literature, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, which they were given in 2009 for their tireless work promoting reading. As part of that, they run a publishing house. Renad Qubbaj, who has served as Tamer’s General Director of Tamer Institute for Community Education since 2006, was profiled as part of our series featuring women in Arabic publishing. In response to a question about what brings her joy, as a publisher, she said:

“The source of my happiness lies in the spaces provided by Tamer Institute to produce thought-provoking books. These books go beyond the familiar realms of our daily experiences, offering a fresh perspective on self, environment, and the world. They enable us to connect emotionally and intellectually with diverse characters and transport us to a safe and engaging place that transcends physical boundaries. These literary works have a lasting impact, penetrating our hearts and minds, and ushering us into a more expansive realm that shapes our evolving human identity in a world characterized by freedom and liberation.”

A few Tamer books we love: Sonia Nimr’s Thunderbird series; Sonia Nimr’s Wondrous Journeys in Strange LandsHuda al-Shawwa’s Dragon of BethlehemSherif Kanaana’s Stories from Palestinian Folklore; and Ahlam Bsharat’s Trees for the Absentees. You can explore more at their website:

A few you can read in translation: MG and YA novels from Sonia Nimr — her Thunderbird books and Wondrous Journeysand Ahlam Bsharat’s Trees for the Absentees, tr. Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp and Sue Copeland.

2. Al Salwa Books (Jordan)

Al Salwa Books ( is another stalwart of the Arabic children’s literature scene. Founded in 1996, Al Salwa has published hundreds of books and has won awards in Jordan, regionally, and internationally.

Publisher Taghreed Najjar, who is also an award-winning author, was also profiled as part of our series on women in Arabic publishing. About her time in publishing, she said: “In the last few decades, we have made big strides in terms of content and the quality of books available for children. This is due to the growing awareness among today’s young parents of the importance of reading from a very early age. These parents are savvy and expect quality books for their children. Many schools have also come to realize that reading for fun in Arabic is important for the learning process. This has brought more demand for children’s books. When book sales improve, then more good books can be published.”

A few Al Salwa books we love: Taghreed Najjar’s YA novels The Mystery of the Falcon’s Eye. Against the Tide; her chapter books What Happened to My Brother Ramez?, and Mrs. Jawaher and Her Cats; Yazan Al-Masarwah & Burcu Yilmaz’s clever Black Line; Maria Daadouche & Celeste Aires’ funny My Pants are too Short; Anastasia Qarawani & Maja Kastelic’s tender Koozy; and Taghreed Najjar & Maya Fidawi’s classic The Watermelon (translated as Watermelon Madness).

A few you can read in translation: Picture books Watermelon Madness, What Shall We Play Nowand The Ghoul, among others, and chapter book My Brother & Meby Taghreed Najjar, ill. Maya Fidawi, tr. Michelle Hartman.

3. Al Yasmine Publishing House (Jordan)

Al Yasmine Publishing House  (, founded by author Abeer Taher (whose Naughty Kitty we love!) has a goal of making child-friendly books for readers age 0-16, with “the ultimate goal of making reading a part of their lifestyle.” Al Yasmine has published more than 90 children’s and young adult books by authors from across the Maghreb and Mashreq and by illustrators from around the world.

A few Dar al-Yasmine books we love: Their YA novels The Heart is Right Behind the Rib, by Maria Daadouche, and Wild Poppiesby Haya Saleh; picture books That Fish in My Stomach by Maria Daadouche & Amanda Paschal; Don’t Let Judy Go Without a Coat, by Maria Daadouche and Walid Taher; and of course the classic Naughty Kittyby Abeer Taher and Maya Fidawi.

One you can read in translation: Haya Saleh’s Wild Poppies. We hope to see more soon.

4. Kalimat (UAE)

Since their founding in 2007, Kalimat ( has been a force to be reckoned with in children’s publishing, with high-quality books produced originally in Arabic and translated into Arabic. They have some particularly charming series, such as the Yasmina series written by Fatima Sharafeddine and illustrated by Lena Merhej.

Kalimat has a partnership with Bloomsbury, which has brought several of their books into English translation.

A few Kalimat books we love: Fatima Sharafeddine & Hanane Kai’s Auntie Osha; Obada Talka & Alessandra Santelli’s Areej ;and Rania Zbib Daher & Debora Guidi’s Sound of the Sea.

A few you can read in translation: Fatima Sharafeddine & Hassan Zahreddine’s Tweet Quack Moo and Fatima Sharafeddine’s Mimi books, ill. Rasha Mounib Al Hakim.

5. Balsam Books (Egypt)

Balsam Books ( — an extension of Egypt’s leading children’s bookshop — is an award-winning publisher and cornerstone of the Egyptian kid-lit scene. Founded by Balsam Saad, was founded in 2005. The house “specializes in books for children and young adults and aims to provide reading materials of outstanding content and design that will inspire, give hope and educate. Our aim is to revive our culture, language and values both through locally developed materials as well as through materials translated to and from around the world.”

A few Balsam books we love: Middle grade reads Shahrazizi’s Nightsby Hadil Ghoneim & Sahar Abdallah and Teta and Babciaby Miranda Beshara & Heba Khalifa; and author-illustrator Alaa Mortada’s Damascus.

We hope you can read them soon in translation.

6. Dar al-Saqi (Lebanon)

Dar al Saqi ( is a publisher of long standing, but they only started up a children’s and young adult list, Saqi Kids, in 2012. Currently, they release about 15 titles a year. Of late, they have published some of our favorite children’s books, with laugh-and-cry stories and bold illustrations, like our beloved Where Do I Put You?, written by Fatima Sharafeddine and illustrated by Najaf Farashte and the incredible I’m Not Alone, by Rami Tawil, ill Sandra Calvi, which makes us cry just thinking about it.

A few Dar al-Saqi books we love: Where Do I Put You?, written by Fatima Sharafeddine and illustrated by Najaf Farashte and I’m Not Alone, by Rami Tawil, ill Sandra Calvi.

A few you can read in translation: Fatima Sharafeddine and Samar Mahfouz Barraj’s MG novel Ghady & Rawantr. Sawad Hussain and M Lynx Qualey; you can also read an excerpt of Fatima Sharafeddine’s Cappuccinotr. same.

7. Liblib Publishing (UK)

The UK-based Liblib ( is one of a handful of publishers bringing out books in colloquial Arabics. They write: “LibLib aims to be a world-class publishing house for children’s books written in spoken Arabic; instilling a love of reading by providing inspiring, inclusive, accessible and diverse stories for Arabic-speaking children everywhere.”

Right now, their focus is board books, and they’ve got a number of charming ones.

A few Liblib books we love: Board books The Weatherillustrated by Omar Hossain and the Touch & Feel book, illustrated by Aya Marzouk.

8. Dar El Shorouk (Egypt)

As they write over at CairoBookStop, the house was “founded in 1948 by Mohamed el-Moallem under the name Dar al-Qalam, the house was nationalized in 1961 along with Dar al-Ma‘arif and following the government’s acquisition of al-Ahram, Dar al-Hilal, Ruz al-Yusuf, and al-Akhbar in 1960. Two years after the government buyout, el-Moallem tried again to open a private house, this time succeeding with Dar El Shorouk. Following his success in Cairo, el-Moallem opened a second branch in Beirut the following year, then later added a printing division to each branch. After el-Moallem’s death in 1995, leadership passed to his son Ibrahim el-Moallem,” who currently runs the publishing house.

Children’s books are an important part of what they do at Dar El Shorouk (, and they have been the publisher, for instance, of the charming “Alam Simsim” (Sesame World) picture books, featuring the characters from the TV show, and Walid Taher’s charming Fizo series.

A few Dar El Shorouk books we love: The whole Fizo series of picture books, by Walid Taher; It’s a Chick, Not a Dogby Jar al-Nabi al-Hilw & Hilmi al-Tuni; Walid Taher’s The Black Dot, and Walid Taher’s sweet alphabet book, My Beautiful Letters.

A few you can read in translation: You can read the text of It’s a Chick, Not a Dog on Words Without Borders, in Marilyn Booth’s translation, and although Walid Taher’s The Black Dot isn’t available in English, it is available in French translation.

9. Alia Publishing (Egypt)

Al-Alia’s ( tagline is “reviving the passion of reading in a world of technology.” They add that “not only does the child enjoy the new experience of reading that Alia presents, but so does everyone else.” And it’s true — Alia books are a favorite among parents and caregivers as well.

You can see a number of their books on their Frankfurt Rights mini-site; like everyone else, we particularly love Akkkkkhhhh! by Manar Hazza, illustrated by Soheir Khaled.

A few Alia books we love: Akkkkkhhhh! by Manar Hazza, illustrated by Soheir Khaled and Simple by Manar Hazza, illustrated by Basma Hosam.

We hope to see books by Alia in translation soon.

10. Yanbow al-Kitab (Morocco)

Yanbow al-Kitab ( is a Moroccan children’s publishing house founded in 2006 by author Amina Hachimi Alaoui. There are now more than 100 titles in their catalog, published in Arabic, French, and Tamazight. When it was created in 2006, it aimed to fill a void in Morocco, namely the publication of books that were relevant to Moroccan culture and young Moroccan readers.

And their books definitely take the reader to Morocco. Some of our favorites are the award-winning and tender Seventh Day Sheepby Amina Hachimi Alaoui & Maya Fidawi, and Alya and the Three Cats, by Amina Hachimi Alaoui & Maya Fidawi.

One you can read in translation: Alya and the Three Cats, by Amina Hachimi Alaoui & Maya Fidawi, translated by Mehdi Retnani.


Of course, this is only a glimpse of the wide and wild landscape of Arabic publishing for young readers. There are many more excellent, beloved, award-winning publishers of Arabic literature for young readers: Dar Hadaek, Asala, Dar Ashjar, Sunono, the Palestine Writing Workshop, Jabal Amman, Tanmia, Bright Fingers, Shagara, Hudhud, and Nahdet Masr, to name just a few. We’re sorry we can’t profile more. You can explore some of these publishers by going through winners and shortlistees of the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature, a leading prize for Arabic literature for young readers, given every fall at the Sharjah Book Fair.