Question from a Reader: Bilingual Arabic-English Children’s Books

Merrill Gay: I’m trying to find Arabic children’s stories translated into English (Not English stories translated into Arabic).  We have a rapidly growing immigrant population from Yemen and I would like to find children’s stories that the parents can relate to and read in Arabic.  Ideally, I would like to find these books in Arabic and English so that as the children learn to read in English at school they can read the stories their parents read to them in Arabic.  Do Arabic/English children’s books exist?  And if so where can they be purchased?

Read Kutub Kids: You didn’t say where you’re located. There are a number of bilingual Arabic/English children’s books that can be purchased via or, although most of them are translations rather than books set in the Arabic-reading world.

Of these translations, I would certainly suggest fun bilingual books from Bloomsbury-Qatar such as The Gruffalo/الغرفول and Something Else/شيء آخر. BQFP also has two books set in Arabia that have both English and Arabic versions: Victory Over Abu Derya/الانتصار على أبو دريا and Hamda and Fisaikra.

What’s more, BQFP is re-printing some of translator Denys Johnson-Davies’ story collections in order to bring them to wider audiences: The Battles of the Prophet Muhammad and Stories of the Caliphs among them. If you want to drop them a note, their contact information is here.

The Kalimat title طريقتي الخاصة/My Own Special Way by UAE author Maitha Al Khayat will be published in English by Orion. This would also be a good English-Arabic pairing to have on hand, as it explores girls’ relationships to hijab and finding their own way, more broadly, in the world.  You can contact Kalimat via this page.

Al-Balsam Books has translated a number of Eric Carle titles. (There are some other Eric Carle translations out there that are badly done. Best to contact Balsam if you want Arabic Eric Carle.)

If you’re in the U.S., the Texas-based Syraj.Com is an excellent resource, with a whole section of bilingual books.  My children particularly like A Home for Arnoub/بيت الأرنب الصغير, written by veteran Jordanian children’s-book author Taghreed al-Najjar.

I also noticed, on my last visit to Al-Balsam Bookstore, that Rania Hussein Amin has translated some of her Farhana books, although I’m not sure how you would purchase them outside of Egypt.

Other suggestions? Please leave them for Merrill below, and thank you!

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5 Responses to Question from a Reader: Bilingual Arabic-English Children’s Books

  1. Bodour AlQasimi says:

    Dear Merrill,

    One of the best publishers that publishes Arabic/English bilingual books is mantra lingua you can get more info from their website
    Kalimat have also produced a special bilingual book for World Book Day in cooperation with Sharjah Department of Culture and Information “Book Fiesta” you can contact Kalimat directly on twitter @kalimat_books or through the website
    My next suggestion would be Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation as mentioned by Marcia above.

    Good luck!


  2. Balsam Saad says:

    Dear Merrill,

    Some suggestions for Arabic stories translated into English – from the bookstore:
    * The Farhana series: by Elias Publishing House (in separate books)
    * Fafa and Friends series: by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing (in separate books)
    * Salma and Laila; The Bird and the Giraffe: by Bright Fingers (in separate books)
    * The Fox and Samour the Rabbit; The Dog and Shamma the Cat, The Ant and the Wheat Spike, The Little Bird: by Il Baba (in one book)
    * قصتي الكبيرة ذات القبعة الحمراء
    قصتي الكبيرة بياض الثلج والاقزام السبعة
    قصتي الكبيرة علاء الدين والفانوس السحري
    قصتي الكبيرة الهر الذكي
    قصتي الكبيرة اليس في بلاد العجائب
    قصتي الكبيرة الذئب والعنزة والجديان السبع
    قصتي الكبيرة بيت الحلوى هتسيل وغريتل
    قصتي الكبيرة على بابا والاربعين لصا
    قصتي الكبيرة ملكت الازهار الاصبع الصغير
    قصتي الكبيرة اللحية الزرقاء
    قصتي الكبيرة الاميرة الهاربة جلد الحمار
    قصتي الكبيرة الاميرة النائمة
    قصتي الكبيرة سندريلا
    قصتي الكبيرة الخباز المسكين والهرة العجيبة
    قصتي الكبيرة الولد القصير الاصبع الصغير
    قصتي الكبيرة بائعة الكبريت
    (in one book)
    by Dar Al Shamal
    * The Life of Muhammad In Twenty Stories: by Dar Al Shorouk (separate books)

    If interested, we can further ask publishers for the original Arabic books for which they have sold English rights and complete this list for you – sourced from 2 separate publishers.
    Also, certainly the list of English books translated into Arabic is longer. It would include many of our titles: including several of Eric Carle’s titles: Arabic translations of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother Too?, The Mixed Up Chameleon, The Grouchy Ladybug, My Very First series, Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See, and other titles by us and by others.
    I hope this is helpful. If you need further assistance, kindly let us know. We can be reached via email: or via Twitter: @AlBalsam.

    Thank you,
    Best wishes,

    Balsam Saad

  3. Salwa says:

    Dear Merrill,

    I was also going to suggest mantra lingua, as Budour said. Other than that you can check out one of our publications “A home for Arnoub” – which Marcia mentioned has the picture book animated in Arabic and English onto an interactive CD. You can view an excerpt of the animation here:

    You can now also view translation of our Arabic Nursery Rhymes collection on our website , click on the Books tab and view the English translation on PDF files.

    Hope that helped as well.

    All the best,

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