Children are never too young to learn about the history of Palestine and the current events that are occurring out there, especially if they are at the age that they can use social media. If you want to introduce your child to the Palestinian history and culture, doing so via a book is one of the best ways. We’ve rounded up a list of 13 books for both younger and older kids:
Children’s Books About Palestine
Books for Young Children About Palestine
1. Sitti’s Secrets, Naomi Shihab Nye – 5+
Although this book is one of the eldest on the list (1994), the book still holds strong as one of the loveliest children’s books about Palestine. Mona takes a trip across the world to visit her sitti, her grandmother, who lives in a small Palestinian village. Although they can’t speak the same language, they develop one of their own and share each other’s secrets.
2. The Boy and The Wall, Amahl Bishara – 5+
This story takes place in Aida, a Palestinian refugee camp in Bethleham, where a large concrete separation wall was built by Israel (a real-life event). One little boy asks his mother about how he can help overcome the impact the wall has on his community, including becoming a mountain so he can see over the wall. All illustrations have been done by children in the Aida camp.
3. Baba, What Does My Name Mean, Rifk Ebeid – 5+
Young Saamidah, a Palestinian refugee, is at a loss when her school friends ask her what her name means so she turns to her baba who takes her on a magical adventure through the lands of ancient Palestine.
4. P for Palestine, Golbarg Bashi – Picture Book – 2+
The first ever English alphabet book about Palestine in the world, P For Palestine is a lovely lyrical picture book that teaches young kids about Palestinian culture.
5. Counting up The Olive Tree, Golbarg Bashi – 5+
Counting Up The Olive Tree follows the lyrical story of two Palestinian children’s soccer teams – boys and girls – who try to save an olive tree from being torn down. It’s a great way to teach young children their numbers.
6. Olive Harvest in Palestine, Wafa Shami – 5+
This book about the traditional olive harvests in Palestine will take the children on a journey from when the olives are picked to being pressed into oil to ending up in the buyer’s house. It’s a warmhearted book that introduces young children to the land of Palestine and their traditions.
Books on Palestine for Older Children
1. Tasting The Sky: A Palestinian Childhood, Ibtisam Barakat – 12+
Tasting The Sky is a memoir written by Ibtisam Barakat about her childhood in Rasmallah during the 6-day war, one which put the last part of Palestine under Israel’s control. She reflects on how she felt being a Palestinian refugee who was separated from their family and how this impacted her life.
2. A Child’s View of Gaza: Palestinian Children’s Art And The Fight Against Censorship, Middle East Children’s Alliance – 9+
When the drawings from children in Gaza were banned from being shown in a Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland, California, 1000s of people stood against this decision and showed outrage at the censorship. The drawings were then compiled into a book and reflect the children’s lives after the deadly airstrikes in 2014 by Israel.
3. Where The Streets Had A Name, Randa Abdel-Fatteh – 12+
Hayyat, a 13 year old Palestinian, believes that a handful of soil from her grandmother’s ancestral land will help to save the life of her beloved Sitti Zeynab. However she has to overcome the wall that runs across the West Bank as well as curfews and checkpoints in order to achieve her goal. Although it deals with the occupation, the tone is light and humorous in places.
4. The Shepherd’s Granddaughter, Anne Laurel Carter – 12+
Amani, a young girl in Palestine, lives with her family who tend sheep for a living. When her grandfather passes, he passes on the family crook to her so she can take on the responsibility of shepherding, however conflict soon arises after between her family and Israeli settlers. Throughout the turmoil, she makes friends with an American settler called Jonathon.
5. A Little Piece of the Ground – 9+
A story about 12 year old Karim Aboudi who is trapped with his family in Ramallah due to a strict curfew by the Israeli military. Once the curfew has been lifted, Karim and his friends discover a flattened piece of ground that would be ideal for a football pitch plus an abandoned car that would make for a great den. But what happens when Israeli soldiers find Karim outside during the next curfew?
6. Determined to Stay: Palestinian Youth Fight For Their Village, Nick Estes – 12+
This book shows the impact Israel’s occupation has on the Palestianian youths and draws parallels between youngsters living in both US and Palestine whilst exploring the village of Silwan.
7. Outside the Ark – 8+
Outside The Ark is a collection of stories that takes a peek into life on the occupied West Bank; how two young boys must fight off Israeli soldiers, a sick elderly woman has to break through barriers to access the hospital, little Aseel dreaming about flying away from her camp via a kite. It can be heart wrenching to read and is ideal for both children and adults.