Teaching a Child أ ب ت

The time has come when we want the three-year-old to start learning his letters. I don’t want to drill him, or take the joy out of books: We just want to expose him to their shapes and begin the process of recognition.

In U.S. libraries, as is probably the case in the U.K. and Canada, there are rafts of books dedicated to teaching the alphabet: funny ones, pretty ones, books narrated by kids’ favorite characters, rhyming ones, fall-asleep-to-the-sound-of-it ones. More than necessary, I’m sure.

There are markedly fewer in Arabic. Certainly, any stroll through a stationery shop (at least here in Cairo) will present many options for tracing your أ، ب ، ت , but I don’t want to force handwriting on the poor guy: I just want him to love his letters.

Notable alphabet books are Walid Taher’s charming حروفي جميلة  and accompanying set of cards, Asala’s flipbook أ ب ت المرحة, and Kalimat’s أ ب ت الحيوانات.

It’s possible to find Arabic magnetic letters, but as for the complicated ones that change shapes: a friend has them, but I can’t track them down. Bright Fingers had stencil books and letter games at the Sharjah and Qatar book fairs, although their website is now down.

The U.S.-based Syraj also has a number of learning tools, including Arabic-alphabet wooden building blocks and—my favorite—Arabic sandpaper letters.

Clearly, it’s far easier to expose a child to A-B-C. There are a zillion books for it, television shows, flip cards, games, stencils, singing toys, and more. Many children can learn أ ب ت without a myriad of products. But a few more would be nice.

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