Monday, July 13, 2020

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Best Arabic Children's Books Online (USA, UK and worldwide)

Like many other Arab parents living in the west (the UK), I quickly came to realize the lack of (or difficult access to) good Arabic children’s books online. After lots of research and trying many many sources, I decided to collect all the best places to find these books and stories online. Some are free, some paid. Some of these are in Egyptian or other dialects while some are in Fus-ha or standard Arabic, or both. So let’s jump right in! I will include online resources as well as websites you can buy books from. The first 2 resources are really interesting in that they offer audio reading of stories in Arabic lively voice.

1- Tuta Tuta توته توته

I started with this one because it is my favorite and offers many free Arabic stories in a new creative way. There is a lot of work done by them so let me tell you about what you can expect (I am not affiliated with Tuta Tuta and I don’t personally know them). Their Youtube channel is great: they have many famous international stories narrated in Egyptian Arabic for free! Some of the titles are very well known such as the Gruffalo, Cinderella and room on the broom and others. You can also listen to an audio or download an Arabic pdf (found under each video) of the translation and you can glue it on the English books if you have them (this is what I personally do so I can choose which language to read). The translation is not just a literal cold one but it uses a simple clever sentences that also rhyme!

The owner (Riham Shendy) also makes videos where she talks about the importance of reading for children and presents scientific studies that shows benefits of reading. She also makes the case that kids should start learning their local dialect as their parents before they start learning Fus-ha because they will be using the dialect in their day to day life and hence, kids’ stories should also be available in their dialect.
Lastly, they have published a book that contains Arabic versions of some of the most popular “international folktales”, but, here is the thing, they are not just translated but adapted to Egypt, as if the story happened in Egypt, which I find amazing!

page of English book with Arabic translation
I print the Arabic pdf file with each video and glue it on the original English book so I can read for my child.

2- Tell me a story! Ehky Le hadota إحكِ لي حدوتة

Another free resource with such admirable effort by just one person! Amal Alaa Eddin started this Facebook page and she records stories with her voice while the book pages show on video, some in both Standard Arabic and Egyptian dialect but in a fun and simple way that children like. The page has more than 20,000 likes and the recordings are of high quality. Click here to visit: Tell Me a Story إحك لي حدوته. There are many other similar channels on Youtube which I think are helping close a certain gap in Arabic Children’s books or stories but this is the one I have used. Here is one of theirs.

Buy Arabic Children’s Books Online

Maktabtee

مكتبتي or “my library” is a nice project started by two moms living in America and you can buy Arabic books online from their website . They noticed how many of the Arabic stories for kids are kind of outdated with poor graphics compared to the plethora of available children’s literature in English. Maktabtee curates only high quality and “relevant” books for kids of all ages (from baby to older children) as well as educational material like flash cards, etc. They ship to everywhere but check fees according to your country.

Al Salwa Books السلوى

Al Salwa is an independent publisher for some of the best children authors in Arabic. Their books are well written and the illustrations feels modern and attractive for the young eyes. They are based in Jordan but you can order from anywhere.

Neel wa Furat

You might have heard about this one already but in case you haven’t: it is the largest Arabic online bookshop. They sell eBooks as well as actual books. Because it is so huge, I usually go there if I am looking for a specific book that I can’t find anywhere.

Ossass

Ossass means stories in Arabic, it is a new initiative started by 2 parents living in the west. They decided to start writing stories for their daughters in their mother tongue and have so far published 2 books, each book is available in both Egyptian and Levantine (Shami) dialects.

Ketab

Ketab is an online bookstore that is based in London and directed at Arabic readers in the West. I have not personally used them yet. The website also says they provide learning aids for people/kids with special needs. The Children’s section has a large collection or Arabic and Islamic books. They have books by some publishers mentioned in this page so you could compare the same book prices on different websites as it might differ depending on shipping.

Al Saqi (UK)

Saqi is an independent publisher based in Lebanon but they also have a bookstore in London, United Kingdom. You can also buy books online at their website. I like visiting them every now and then to find new books. They don’t specialize in Children’s books but have a decent section.

Jarir USA

The well-known Saudi bookstore has its own branch in the US (they have an actual store in California) but you can of course order worldwide. Worth exploring if you are in America or looking for specific books.

And now over to you: if you know any other websites/other sources that should be added to this list, please let me know in the comments section below or by email. You can also find us on social media where we are building a community of Arabic learners and enthusiasts.
Thank you and I hope this was helpful.

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