5 Books to Read for International Children’s Book Day

Established in 1967 by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), International Children’s Book Day is celebrated each year on April 2nd. In honor of this day, QAIC is featuring five beloved children’s books focused on the Middle East and the Arab experience. From classic tales from the region to stories of overcoming adversity, these five books are sure to become the next additions to your bookshelf!


1. Hamda and Fisaikra by Kaltham Al-GhanimHamda and Fisaikra (English): Al-Ghanem, Kaltham: 9789992178874: Amazon.com: Books

Hamda and Fisaikra is a retelling of the classic tale Cinderella for an Arab audience. The story follows a girl, Hamda, who is helped by Fisaikra the fish in finding her true love. A story of resilience and magic, Hamda and Fisaikra was inspired by the heritage and folklore of the Gulf region. The book also features beautiful gold, silver, and turquoise illustrations by artist May Al-Mannai.

Available for purchase here.


2. The Arabian Nights by Wafa’ TarnowskThe Arabian Nights by Wafa' Tarnowskaa

This volume contains eight stories from the classic collection of tales The Thousand and One Nights. Carefully translated by Lebanese author Wafa’ Tarnowska, these stories reflect the region’s rich history and storytelling tradition. The collection particularly focuses on female heroines and their courage and strength, challenging stereotypes that perceive women as weak or victimized. Tarnowska, a third-generation storyteller, appeals to audiences across the world with these beloved tales, bridging East and West.

In March 2021, QAIC sat down with Tarnowska about her most recent book, Amazing Women of the Middle East: 25 Stories from Ancient Times to Present Day. Check out the interview here.

Available for purchase here.


The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid: Winter, Jeanette, Winter, Jeanette: 9781481446693: Amazon.com: Books

3. The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter

In this book, acclaimed children’s book author Jeanette Winter tells the story of British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. While Hadid is regarded as one of the most influential contemporary architects today, her journey to success encountered many obstacles. Born in Baghdad, Hadid dreamed of becoming an architect at a time when few women architects gained recognition. Hadid’s story of determination and triumph is an inspiration to young readers to follow their passions.

Available for purchase here.


The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story: Khalil, Aya, Semirdzhyan, Anait: 9780884487548: Amazon.com: Books

4. The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story by Aya Khalil

The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story follows Kanzi, a young Egyptian girl who has just moved to the United States. Kanzi has difficulty adjusting to her new life, but, through the power of quilt-making, she finds acceptance among her peers. Based on the author’s experience as an immigrant herself, The Arabic Quilt is an important story about cross-cultural understanding.

Available for purchase here.


5. The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad

A New York Times bestseller, The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family tackles important issues such as discrimination and bullying. It follows a girl, Faizah, who hears hurtful comments about her sister’s hijab on their first day of school. Written by US Olympic medalist and hijabi Ibtihaj Muhammad, the book combines beautiful illustrations with powerful messages about tolerance and family.

Available for purchase here.