'A Kid's Guide to Arab American History'

by Yvonne Wakim Dennis and Maha Addasi
A Kid's Guide to Arab American History

When I lived in Egypt, I thought that all Arabs spoke the same language, then I moved to Jordan and discovered that the little Arabic I learned in Egypt did not work in Jordan. I had to start the learning process all over again. I also noticed the difference in their cultures. 

Here in the U.S., a great majority of the American population mistakenly believes all Arabs share the same culture, language, and religion, and that they have only recently begun immigrating to the United States. A Kid’s Guide to Arab American History challenges these and other stereotypes.

This book provides a contemporary as well as historical look at real people with Arab roots and how they have contributed to the fabric of the United States. Each chapter focuses on a different group of Arab Americans, featuring people from countries that are most represented in the United States, such as Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Kurdistan and Yemen.

This book offers more than 50 fun activities that highlight countries' distinct arts, games, clothing, and food. Kids will love:

  • dancing the Dabke
  • constructing a Derbekke drum
  • playing a game of Senet
  • making Hummus
  • creating a birdbath with an arabesque design
  • sculpting coasters with Yemeni Frieze designs
  • crafting an Egyptian-style cuff bracelet
  • designing and making a Sarma embroidered scarf
  • making and playing Mancala
  • making and performing a shadow puppet show or
  • lighting a Fanous lantern.

Along the way they will learn to count in Kurdish, pick up a few Syrian words, learn a Yemeni saying, write a poem like Naomi Shihab Nye and speak a little Iraqi.

There are many short biographies of notable Arab Americans, including actor and philanthropist Danny Thomas, singer Paula Abdul, artist Helen Zughaib and activist Ralph Nader, demonstrating a wide variety of careers and contributions. Did you know that Queen Noor of Jordan was born in the United States?

Kids will love this book. Yvonne Wakim Dennis and Maha Addasi did a great job making this book easy to read and very enjoyable.

This book is a great window to the diversity in the Arabic world highlighting the diversity of the Arab nations as well as their cultural contributions to the world. I would recommend this book to adults as well as children. I give this book a 10 out of 10. Check it out!

-- Jackie Mikolaski, Library Associate