Reviews by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, Ekram Abdelgawad, and Elisabet Risberg
Translations from the Swedish by Shaun Whiteside, Faye Wikner, and Eva Apelqvist
Palestinian picture books — like picture books in most languages — is about many things: asking questions, making discoveries, encouraging creativity, sparking joy and laughter, and helping children find a place for themselves in the world.
Some of the picture books reviewed below reflect on life in Palestine. Some are just a delight, like Palestinian-Jordanian writer Taghreed Najjar’s Watermelon Madness, illustrated by Maya Fidawi and published in English by Crackboom! Books. We have tried to include picture books that are about life in Palestine and books that are just by Palestinian authors; picture books available in Arabic and available in English. Another list of recommendations is available from our friends at HadiBadi (scroll to the bottom for English), and back in 2021, we recommended 15 children’s books by Palestinian authors for translation; thus far, just one on the list has been translated.
Also, if you have an interest in picture books, follow Elisabet Risberg’s instagram account @arabarnlitt and at her blog, arabarnlitt.se, where some of the reviews below first appeared in Swedish. Readers can also find many more books from the iconic Palestinian publisher and educational institution Tamer Institute, and the Beirut Barzakh Bookshop has brought together classic Palestinian children’s books at archive.org.
We encourage readers to leave more picture-book recommendations in the comments; recommended Palestinian middle-grade and YA novels are forthcoming.