Books about Palestine for Children and Young Adults
Abdel-Fattah, Randa. (2010). Where the Streets Had a Name. New York City: Scholastic Press.
A novel about a 13-year-old girl living in Bethlehem who is determined to bring a handful of soil from her dying grandmother’s ancestral home in Jerusalem . . . and the impact of the Israeli occupation on the young girl’s efforts.
Alareer, Refaat (Ed.). (2014). Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine. Charlottesville, VA: Just World Books.
Fifteen young people from Gaza wrote the stories in this anthology. Their writing is grounded in their experiences living under Israel’s siege and blockade, and they view the book as a means of presenting and preserving Palestinian memories. For a webcast with the editor and four of the authors, go to http://justworldbooks.com/gaza-writes-back/.
Allen, Sally Bahous. (1997). Sitti and the Cats: A Tale of Friendship. Lapham, MD: Roberts Rinehart Publishers.
A picture book that recounts a traditional story told for many years to Palestinian children about an old woman, Sitti (grandmother), who is alone in the world and one day rescues a stranded kitten. This act of kindness completely changes her life.
Barakat, Ibtisam. (2007). Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
A memoir set in the West Bank during the Six-Day War in 1967. About the life of young Ibtisam Barakat and her family when they were uprooted, forced into exile in Jordan, then later allowed back to their old home, only to be surrounded by Israeli soldiers.
Bashi, Golbarg. (2017). P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book. New York: Dr. Bashi.
A rhyming alphabet book that focuses on Palestinian geography, culture, and history, including Palestinian foods (e.g., falafel, labneh), festivals (e.g., Eid, Christmas), regions and towns (e.g., Gaza, Bethlehem), and events (e.g., Intifada, “rising up” in Arabic).
Bishara, Amahl. (2005). The Boy and the Wall. (Illustrations by youth from the Lajee Centre). Ramallah, Palestine: Lajee Centre. (Available in North America from Nidal Al-Azraq at email@example.com)
In a rhythmic speak-and-respond structure modeled after The Runaway Bunny, a Palestinian child living in Aida Refugee Camp near Bethlehem talks with his mother about what he can do to help Palestinians overcome the impact of the apartheid wall. This is a bilingual book (in Arabic and English).
Carter, Anne Laurel. (2008). The Shepherd’s Granddaughter. Toronto, Canada: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press.
A contemporary coming-of-age novel set in the West Bank. About a young Palestinian girl, Amani, and her family’s struggle to keep their land and homes in the face of the brutal Israeli occupation (e.g., prohibited from traveling freely, theft of land and water sources).
Laird, Elizabeth. (2006). A Little Piece of Ground. Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books (originally published by Macmillan UK in 2003).
A novel about 12-year-old boys who are living under occupation in Ramallah in the West Bank and searching for a place to play soccer. The author lived with a Palestinian family in Ramallah while doing research for her story.
Middle East Children’s Alliance. (2012). A Child’s View from Gaza: Palestinian Children’s Art and the Fight Against Censorship. Berkeley, Calif.: Pacific View Press.
A collection of captioned illustrations created by Palestinian children who lived through the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in 2008-2009. The pictures were drawn as part of an effort to help children deal with the horrors they had experienced.
Nye, Naomi Shihab. (2002). 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East. New York: Greenwillow Books.
This is a collection of poems about being Arab American, about family, and about life in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank. The poems are based on the author’s life.
Nye, Naomi Shihab (Ed.). (2002). The Flag of Childhood: Poems from the Middle East. New York City: Aladdin Paperbacks.
The 60 poems in this collection are written by poets from many countries in the Middle East (e.g., Palestine, Israel, and Iraq), as well as elsewhere, and they explore issues such as family and one’s relationship with the earth. They challenge stereotypes of the Middle East.
Nye, Naomi Shihab. (1994). Sitti’s Secrets. New York: Simon & Schuster.
In this picture book, Mona lives in America and goes to visit her grandmother in a Palestinian village in the West Bank. Although Mona does not speak a shared language with her grandmother (Sitti in Arabic), they are able to communicate through gestures, music, and actions.
O’Grady, Ellen. (2005). Outside the Ark: An Artist’s Journey in Occupied Palestine. Durham, N.C.: 55 Books.
The author is an artist-activist who worked for six years in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. In this book, she uses text and paintings to tell the stories of Palestinians living under occupation that she knew and lived with.
Razak, Leila Abdel. (n.d.) Mariposa Road. Originally published on the Electronic Intifada: https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/leila-abdelrazaq/hisham-and-mounis-besieged-gaza-us-immigration-jail A graphic zine about the experiences of two men from Gaza, Hisham and Mounis, who sought asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014. Because the United States doesn’t recognize Palestine, they were considered stateless and were imprisoned in an ICE facility for over a year and denied asylum, though no reason was given.
Sacco, Joe. (1993,1994). Palestine: A Nation Occupied. Seattle, WA: Fantagraphics Books.
A graphic first-person nonfiction book that reveals who Palestinians are and why they have resisted Zionism and the Israeli occupation. Sacco also provides a brief history of the region. For older readers.