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 Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, 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!