I have found that, for my eldest son, who has fallen deeply and passionately in love with English books (for many reasons: the way Arabic is taught, etc. etc.), the easiest way to make him re-engage with Arabic is a بحث للعثور book.
The first one he read and re-read and preferred over all other books was a السنافر search-and-find (with a bit of a story line) from Nahdet Masr.
But his favorite — and the best of the bunch, that I’ve found — is “الغاز الرمال” by هلأ بنت خالد, published by Dar Jerboa Children’s Publishers.
One of the great things about Halla’s book is that it can be read and re-read, experienced and re-experienced by the three- (nearly-four) year-old as well as the eight-year-old. But the السنافر also appeals to them both. Where “الغاز الرمال” is so much more successful is that it’s desert setting creates an appealing adventure and is educational in a way that engages children’s senses and doesn’t feel “schoolish.”
Thanks to Zeyna al-Jabri of Buzoor for the tip!
So who is this Hamada? (Yes, I just chose the name because of the Nancy Ajram video.) This book doesn’t exist, but I imagined a series somewhat similar to “Where’s Waldo?” But with an Arab character who (in the Egypt) can be found in a crowd in Tahrir, on a beach in Alexandria, among those giant pillars in Luxor, and so on. And then Hamada would travel to Lebanon, the Emirates, Syria, Morocco, Saudi, and so on.
Apparently, there isn’t an Arabic “Where’s Wally?” Which is good. We don’t need him. We need Waleed.