The 10 Best Things to Happen to Arabic Children’s Literature in 2010

1) The opening of Al-Balsam Books. This summer, Cairo welcomed its first child-focused bookshop, located at 128 Nile St. in Dokki. Cairo thus joined other Arab cities with kids’ bookstores, including Amman (Hakawati) and Dubai (Buzoor).

What’s so great about child-centric bookstores? There are concrete things—readings, events, a larger range of books—but there are also the intangibles, such as children feeling that they have a “space” dedicated just for their literacy.

2) More kids’ book events in non-kid places. Meanwhile, even all-ages bookstores and book fairs stepped up their commitment to children’s literacy: Shorouk had a strong program of events at several of its Cairo locations; Magrudy’s co-sponsored—with Buzoor—a number of training workshops for teachers; Bloomsbury-Qatar organized the first annual Children’s Literature Festival under the tent of the Doha International Book Fair.

3) The launch of Bloomsbury-Qatar. While BQFP has been criticized elsewhere for its slow start with grown-up titles, the children’s side has been strong, bringing out a number of excellent Arabic books, including شيء آخر, the delightful translation of Kathryn Cave and Chris Riddell’s Something Else. Indeed, if they had done nothing besides the translation of الغرفول, my sons and I would be happy.

4) Etisalat Prize: Year 2. This year, the prize got more publicity and put out both a longlist and a shortlist. These lists helped build excitement and helped parents to find excellent new children’s books.

Some glitches remain in the prize administration and publicity, but the award certainly has taken steps forward. And who could be unhappy with accolades for Walid Taher’s delightful النقطة السوداء?

5) Also, the Anna Lindh Honor List and their “101 books” list were both big help for teachers, parents, and librarians.

6) The growth of the Arabic YA novel. 2010 seemed to be a year when Arabic publishers stood up and recognized the need for young-adult literature in Arabic.

Bloomsbury-Qatar brought out a translation of Randa Jarrar’s When the Streets Had a Name; Nahdet Masr’s أوراق قديمة  made the Anna Lindh “honor list”; Fatima Sharafeddine’s wonderful فاتن, published by Kalimat, won the Best Book Prize at the Beirut International Book Fair; Samah Idris released his third YA novel, فلافل النازحين, at the fair. The book was published by Dar al-Adab.

7) Kalimat’s and Al-Salwa’s digital extensions and innovations. At the Sharjah International Book Fair in October, UAE-based Kalimat was showing off their first iBook while, across the way, fair-goers could check out the CD that accompanies Al-Salwa’s بيت للأرنب الصغير.

Neither is meant to supplant the reading of words and the turning of pages, but to extend and enhance a child’s Arabic-reading experience.

8 ) The launch of the Buzoor Community. Although still in its infancy, Buzoor’s “community” website has the possibility of bringing together a diverse group of publishers, authors, illustrators, parents, teachers, librarians and anyone else who will join us in saying أحب العربي!

9) Great illustrators. The work of Daniel Georges (Asala), Lujaina Al Assile (Kalimat), and others you can find on the Kotoob website really make children’s lit more enticing. After all, interpreting images is also a kind of literacy.

10) Great new books. The great new Arabic books that my sons and I discovered in 2010 are too numerous to name. A few of the best include the قصة و كوسى series by Samah Idris, the آدم و أصدقاء books by Shaimaa al-Bishtawi, بيت للأرنب الصغير by Taghreed Najjar, Walid’s النقطة السوداء, and Rania Hussein Amin’s فرحانة وسر جمالها. Cheers to all these authors and many more.

Thanks to everyone who made this a great year for Arabic children’s literature. We look forward to an even better 2011!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The 10 Best Things to Happen to Arabic Children’s Literature in 2010

  1. Daniel Georges says:

    Thank you for featuring my name in this article. It’s quite an honor to be mentioned in this list of amazing things that happened in 2010 and surely pushed the envelope of Arabic children’s literature. All the achievements listed above including your support is a constant driver to produce better work. Looking forward for 2011. Thank you.

  2. shaima says:

    Thanks for your support .. really appreciated🙂

    • mlynxqualey says:

      So happy to do it.

      I am hoping to get some traction in the schools in 2011… The principal at my older son’s school was very impressed with your box set!

      We can do it…not in the Obama way, but for real.🙂

  3. شيماء says:

    glad to hear this …🙂
    let me surprise you with alphabetical materials .. give me less than one month only

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s