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Arab Children and Teens as Main Characters in Children’s Literature

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How meaningful is it to check out books from the library, or donate books to libraries and schools, or read and discuss books with children? When these are children’s books with Arab children and teens as main characters, such simple acts resist the cultural anti-Arab and anti-Muslim message prevalent in the media, entertainment, and textbooks. This article analyzes picture books: Silent Music by James Rumford and Sitti’s Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye, along with two novels for early teen readers: The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye and The Shepherd’s Granddaughter by Anne Laurel Carter.

Affiliations: 1: Jane Addams Peace Association


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1. Carter Anne Laurel The Shepherd’s Granddaughter 2008 Toronto Groundwood Books/ House of Anansi Press
2. Freedom to Read"“Challenged Works: The Shepherd’s Granddaughter by Anne Laurel Carter (2008)”" 2010 Retrieved June 1, 2016 ().
3. Mastracci Davide"“NY Times Portrays Islam More Negatively Than Cancer, Major Study Finds: Overwhelming proof points to an institutional bigotry”" 2016 AlterNet, Feb. 29, 2016. ().
4. Mishra Smeeta"“Saving Muslim women and fighting Muslim men: Analysis of representations in The New York Times”" Global Media Journal 2007 FallVol Volume 6 Issue 11
5. Nye Naomi Shihab Sitti’s Secrets 1994/1997 New York Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
6. Nye Naomi Shihab Habibi 1997 New York Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
7. Nye Naomi Shihab The Turtle of Oman 2014 New York Greenwillow Books/ Harper Collins Children’s Books
8. Rumford James Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad 2008 New York Roaring Brook Press/A Neal Porter Book
9. Said Edward Orientalism 1979 New York Vintage
10. Said Edward Covering Islam: How Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World 1981/1997 New York Vintage Books/ Random House
11. Schmidt Carolyn Speer Zabel Darcy A."“Not Just Disney: Destructive Stereotypes of Arabs in Children’s Literature”" Arabs in the Americas: Interdisciplinary Essays on the Arab Diaspora 2006 New York Peter Lang 169 180
12. Shaheen Jack Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People 2001 New York Olive Branch Press
13. Stockton Ronald McCarus Ernest"“Ethnic Archetypes and the Arab Image”" The Development of the Arab-American Identity 1994 Ann Arbor University of Michigan Press

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