Most of the leveled “easy readers” that I’ve come across, in Arabic, have been translations of reading series from English or French. This often means that—even with “level one” books—the vocabulary used in the books isn’t so “easy” at all.
آدم و أصدقاء is an excellent six-book pack for the very earliest emerging readers, and allows a newly emerging reader to get from beginning to end of a book with ease. But where can they go after that? How can new readers build on their skills with interesting but simple books that help them feel a sense of accomplishment?
The best thing I’ve found is the سلسلة السمكة الذهبية series from Al-Salwa Books in Jordan, authored by award-winning Taghreed Najjar. The seven titles in the series are billed as “3+,” and certainly my two-and-a-half-year-old is old enough to enjoy hearing them aloud. But what’s best about them is that my seven-year-old can read them without stumbling over difficult terms.
His Arabic lags behind his English—which is my fault; I don’t blame everything on the Egyptian Ministry of Education. (Missing socks? It must be the Ministry of Education!) I hope that a steady diet of Arabic books from birth will help the two-year-old develop his Arabic and English reading skills more simultaneously. But, for now, while the seven-year-old reads A Wrinkle in Time and Wind in the Willows and Mary Poppins in English, he still needs picture books in Arabic. He wants books with a plot, but very simple vocabulary, for his daily جدول قراءتي.
The Goldfish books have been a tremendous help. They are clearly targeted to slightly younger children, but the seven-year-old still relates to the stories about animals, the life cycle of a frog, and pretend play. The latest in the series, أي شيء, follows two children—Samar and Rami—as they create a mess and play-act while they wait for their mothers to come back from shopping.
Part of the scheme to improve the seven-year-old’s reading—and it does seem to be working, masha’allah (touch wood)—is the daily جدول قراءتي. This has been adopted by his classmates, and insha’allah it will help all of them become stronger readers.
However, since we don’t have access to an Arabic lending library, finding a new book each day has been somewhat of a challenge. But certainly it will be useful to re-read the Goldfish books, as well as others, such as the newer Farhana titles.
Today’s جدول قراءتي was: أين أنام الآن؟, by رانيا زبيب ضاهر. Simple vocabulary, but the typeface at times was a little difficult.
Triumph of the day: When I asked the seven-year-old to get out a book for his English “reading record,” he pulled out أحلى يوم. I informed him that it wasn’t English, and he said, “But I like Arabic.”