Why We Need More Coverage of Arabic Children’s Books in Newspapers

Yes, this is a gorgeous, rich image, from Jeannie Baker’s Mirror, which explores two parallel universes: a family living in Australia, and one living in Morocco. And yes, I might wonder why “Baker’s Moroccan village, on the other hand, is completely wordless.”(NYTimes.) I could wonder why the Australians aren’t portrayed by a village, and the Moroccans by Rabat or Casablanca.

But what interests me most (today) is how much coverage of children’s literature one finds in the New York Times, one of the United States’ leading papers. This coverage is not just repetition of some author or bookstore or publisher press release (ahem!), but provides serious and in-depth views and reviews of children’s lit.

So?

With this kind of coverage—which you’ll find in other U.S. papers, sometimes locally written and sometimes purchased from the Times—parents (and teachers, and leaders) can’t help but take children’s literature seriously. After all, if the NYTimes says it’s serious…well, it’s serious.

Awards like the Etisalat prize are a big help. Surely, when people across the Arabic-reading world hear that you can win 1 million dirhams for writing a children’s book (congratulations again, Walid!), they will take the genre a bit more seriously. But serious, in-depth coverage in leading newspapers, news magazines, and even television programs across the region is also important.

(Yes, I am doing my best. ISA you will find links to some of my articles about children’s books in a few newspapers in the near future. But we need more! Better! وبالطبع ، بالعربى !)

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