Archive for April, 2013|Monthly archive page

Inclusive Books in Arabic

In Uncategorized on April 29, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Last week, I attended the International Board on Books for Young People’s (IBBY) first annual conference for the Central Asia and North Africa region. There were many interesting presentations, but one of them stood out. Nada Barakat Khawaja gave a talk, titled Inclusive Children’s Books: Promoting Diversity, during which I found myself taking copious notes.

Nada Barakat Khawaja is an educator and consultant in the field of special education, and she’s also the author of several notable books (“Walad ka Sair al-Awlad”- A Child Like Any Other Child, “Youm Momayaz”– A Special Day, “Al-Batal Al-Sa’ed”– The Rising Star). Her talk outlined criteria by which to evaluate inclusive books. I’m taking the liberty to summarize bits of it below:

–      Look at the illustrations carefully. How are children with disabilities portrayed? Are they participating in the action? Are elements pertaining to disabilities included in the illustration (ex, hearing aid, wheelchair, etc…). Below are two examples of inclusive illustrations by UK artist Di Lorriman. Notice how various aids are seamlessly integrated into the illustration and how children with disabilities are participating in activities and not being singled out.

Di Lorriman

–      Look closely at the language. Is the terminology pertaining to disability appropriate? Is the tone positive?

–      Does the book highlight similarities rather than differences?

–      If differences are shown, how are they portrayed? Are they given a positive or negative value?

–      Are children with disabilities being portrayed as capable and productive?

–      Are they viewed as equals?

–      Is the author knowledgeable about the disability portrayed?

–      Finally, it’s important to ensure that when children with disabilities are portrayed as behaving badly, the behavior is not attributed to their disability but to a quirk of character like any other character who might misbehave to further the plot.

There are many wonderful inclusive books available in Arabic. If you’re interested and wondering, here’s a short list of books recommended by the Arab Regional Children’s Literature Program. Click on the titles and the links will take you to an introduction to the book or an online vendor.

Al-Sunduq – “The Box”

Youm Momayaz

Al-Batal Al-Sa’ed

Belal wa Amer

Kayfa Nara Al-Ashya’

E’endama Tatakalam AlAsabe’

Farhana wa Sadiq Mohktalif Haqqan

Okhti Sarah

Heya, Homa, Hunna

Resala Men Nour

Nahnou Mokhtalifoun wa Ana Momayyaz

And here are a couple more:

Korsi Yasa’a Al-A’lam

Ana Asma’

Keep in mind that inclusive books are not just for kids with disabilities. They should be part of every child’s library so that everyone is engaged in a dialogue of diversity.

We’ll work on compiling some resources, so please do check the resource tab periodically. And if there’s anything you’d like to see, leave us a message or send us an email!