بيت للأرنب الصغير, one of only two books that was longlisted both for the Etisalat Prize for Arabic Children’s Literature and on the Anna Lindh Foundation Honor List, is not just a book: It’s a book with an interactive CD that features games, art projects, songs, a dramatic reading of the book, print-outs, “wallpaper,” and probably more functions we haven’t yet explored!
About the CD, author and publisher Taghreed Najjar says:
We tried to make the games challenging and fun. The important issue for us was that we did not want to give people the idea that the CD would replace the book. We explained to people that the child would be enriched by the CD and it would make reading the book a richer and easier experience.
The seven-year-old’s two favorite things on the CD were the “build your own story” page, and the dramatic reading of the book and song that accompanied بيت للأرنب الصغير. The song, which comes from the text of the book, is fantastically catchy:
أنا أرنب الأرنوب … حزين حزين حزين … لو عندي بيت جديد … أكون سعيد سعيد … أكون سعيد سعيد.
But beyond its catchiness, what I love about this book is that it has an interesting storyline but is also easy to read. While the texts my seven-year-old brings home from school are not only dull, but littered with hard words, this entire book is built on repetition, assonance, rhythm, anticipation, and simple constructions! It’s not only a pleasure to read, it’s also possible.
Of course I want my son to learn new vocabulary, but I also want him to feel a sense of mastery and accomplishment.
The seven-year-old’s own review of بيت للأرنب الصغير includes raves about the illustrations (a picture from the book is now his father’s computer “wallpaper”), and he added that he likes it “because he finds Arnouba! It’s just a nice story. Every part of it is nice.”