Our children are never too little to learn about Palestine. Use these 10 children’s books as a starting point to educate the next generation on what we stand for.
As we continue to shake our heads in disbelief at the gross disinformation that mainstream media ceaselessly throws at us, one act of resistance comes to mind. And that is to empower and educate the next generation with facts. As a mother with Palestinian roots, my children must know their rich and varied heritage. I choose to teach them about it through the age-old tradition of simple yet compelling storytelling.
Below, you will find a list of books that honor Palestinian history, art, literature, and culinary heritage through beautiful stories suitable for children of all ages. Please encourage your friends and family to continue talking about Palestine.
How Can We Help the People of Palestine?
Our collective responsibility is to do whatever we can to support our Palestinian brothers and sisters through this horror. Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund is on the ground and is the primary humanitarian organization in Palestine, delivering crucial and life-saving medical relief and humanitarian aid. Please consider donating generously to help continue this vital work in times of emergency. Click here to donate now.
10 Children’s Books on Palestine
My Garden Over Gaza by Sarah Musa
This powerful story is about Noura, who is a big sister to little Esam. She watches over her brother as their mother works hard as a seamstress to keep the family fed. Noura also tends to her late father’s rooftop garden, and one day, she wakes up to hear drones spraying chemicals into the air, thereby destroying the little patch that provided Noura’s family with fresh food.
This gut-wrenching tale of the very real challenges Palestinian children face is a lesson in determination. Author Sarah Musa and illustrator Saffia Bazlamit do a superb job of expressing the angst and heartbeat the main character feels and her unfaltering faith in rising again. Please click here to buy My Garden Over Gaza.
Sitti’s Key by Sahar Khader Ali
In Sitti’s Key, we learn about the Nakba, or the catastrophe of 1948, through the words of Amal’s grandmother, Sitti. Sitti is visiting Amal after two years, and she brings with her gifts of olive oil, za'atar, dates, and thoub. When Amal notices an old key in Sitti’s luggage, she wants to know more. Sahar Khader Ali writes the book with attention to detail regarding the Nakba event and how families were removed from their homes and split apart by the Zionist regime. This gentle yet important story about heritage, history, and belonging is a must-read for young readers of all ages. You can buy Sitti’s Key here.
These Olive Trees by Aya Ghanameh
These Olive Trees is a story of a young Palestinian girl and her bond with her family’s olive trees. Author Aya Ghanameh explores the life of Oraib and her family, who live in a refugee camp in Nablus after the Israeli occupation displaces them from their family home. Oraib is worried about the olive trees and wants to know what will happen to them when her family has to flee again due to the ongoing occupation. Suitable for children aged five and over, These Olive Trees is a story of resilience and belonging. To buy this book, click here.
Salim’s Soccer Ball by Tala El-Fahmawi
This rhyming story weaves the tale of little Salim and his lost soccer ball with the challenges of oppression and conflict. Salim loses his soccer ball while playing with his friend. He embarks on a journey across his ancestral village in Palestine, learning lessons from resourceful community members along the way. The author, Tala El-Fahmawi, and illustrator Naveen Abu Saleem give us a vibrant visual of the lifestyle and professions that locals share, along with the common bond of courage in the face of adversity. The book comes with a discussion guide, questions, and a personal note by the author. Click here to buy Salim’s Soccer Ball.
Baba, What does My Name Mean by Rifk Ebeid
Author Rifk Ebeid’s debut book, Baba, What Does My Name Mean, is the story of Saamideh, who asks her father this very innocent question. Her Baba then explains that her name means ‘to persevere, to be persistent.’ He continues to tell her that her name signifies her ancestry, heritage, and the land she belongs to. Saamideh goes on an imaginary journey with a dove, Salam, as her father unravels a story across Palestine's mountains, valleys, and plains.
The book talks about the cities of Haifa, Yaffa, and Nablus, glass-blowing traditions in Al-Khalil, and the weaving in Gaza. Saamideh’s story provokes a sense of belonging and deep love for one's homeland, and the reader is left with an understanding of why exiled Palestinians yearn to return to their rightful homes. This thoughtfully written book is available for purchase at our online store here.
You Are the Color by Rfik Ebeid
You Are the Color is another book by Rfik Ebeid that we couldn't help but mention. You Are the Color is about Thaer, a young boy navigating life after the war displaces him from his home. Thaer feels a lot of darkness surround him and cannot process the brutal scenes he witnesses. The story takes a turn towards healing as Thaer discovers the power of art to transform grief into hope and see color again. Gorgeous illustrations by Noor Al Shalabi illuminate the impact of the Palestinian Nakba on childhood innocence and the unwavering resilience of young children. Click here to buy You are the Color.
Sitti’s Olive Trees by Ndaa Hassan
Author of Ramadan Around the World, Ndaa Hassan, brings us Sittis Olive Trees, a story celebrating culture, family, and the precious olive tree native to Palestine. In the book, Reema bonds with her Sitti (grandmother) over hummus, a traditional chickpea spread eaten with a generous drizzle of fragrant, wholesome olive oil from the sacred olive trees in Palestine. Sitti reminisces about her family elders as they planted, nurtured, and harvested the olive trees when she was a little girl. Soumbal Qureshi beautifully illustrates the book in muted tones that remind one of nature and growth. Please click here to buy Sitti’s Olive Trees.
Colours of Al Quds by Jenny Molendyk Divleli
Colours of Al Quds is a beautifully represented children's picture book by Jenny Molendyk Divleli that takes readers on a beguiling journey through the quaint streets of Al Quds (Jerusalem). Each page discusses the colors the main character, Iman, sees as she walks through her city. From the golden Dome of the Rock and the grey keys that elders hold on to, to the gooey yellow knafeh and the red tatreez found on thobes, Colours of Al Quds is a delightful read for children wanting to learn more about the culture of Palestine. Click here and buy the book today!
The Farah Rocks Series by Susan Muaddi Darraj
The Farah Rocks series is an early reader chapter book series by Susan Muaddi Darraj. The four-book series is about Farah Hajjar, a confident, funny, and courageous Palestinian-American girl. Through the book series, Farah faces challenges with bullies at school, problems at home, and even with her one best friend. The book series comes to life with adorable illustrations by Ruaida Mannaa and is perfect for readers aged seven and above. Click here to browse through the Farah Rocks collection!
Sitti’s Bird by Malak Mattar
Sitti's Bird by Palestinian artist Malak Mattar is a touching and beautifully illustrated picture book that explores themes of a Palestinian family and their heritage. The story follows Malak, a young girl who lives in Gaza with her family. Like the other kids, she goes to school, plays in the ocean, and visits her grandma, Sitti’s house on Fridays. The story tells us about Malak as she channels her love for her family and art to overcome the trauma of the 2014 airstrikes in Gaza. With its colorful illustrations, this poignant book is suitable for readers of all ages. You can buy Sittis Bird by clicking here.
To understand a people, we must listen to their narratives, experience their traditions, and honor their history. The above-mentioned books celebrate Palestine in all its glory and promise free land and safe skies for the next generation. Please continue to support Palestinians through the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund and your prayers.