New Palestinian Children’s Books Encourage Reading, Win Awards

I did not imagine that reading stories aloud is something very important for me and my kids, from this moment I will devote time every day to read to my children. —Nermin, a mother who attended a training in Gaza with Palestine Writing Workshop Director Maya Abu Alhayyat

The Palestine Writing Workshop (PWW) was founded just five years ago but has quickly grown to become a significant resource for writers, readers, illustrators, teachers, parents and children across Palestine. MECA has supported PWW’s work to bring books, storytellers, discussions and book clubs into local schools. Last year, we supported the publication of five beautiful new children’s books by contemporary Palestinian writers. PWW director Maya Abu Alhayyat explains, “we have been working to promote reading across Palestine using creative writing and storytelling. We felt the need [for new books] due to a shortage of children’s stories in Palestinian neighborhoods.”

Two of the PWW books won the prestigious Etisalat Awards for Arabic Children’s Literature. Berkat Al Asela Al Zarqa’a (The Pool of Blue Questions), written by Maya Abu Alhayyat, illustrated by Hassan Monasira won the award in the Best Production category and Bolqosh, written and illustrated by Yara Bamieh won for Best Illustration.

Along with the publication of the books the Palestine Writing Workshop leads workshops for mothers in reading aloud to children. The new books are given to participants who make a commitment to read to children in their own families and communities. Nermin, a mother who attended a training in Gaza, says, “I did not imagine that reading stories aloud is something very important for me and my kids, from this moment I will devote time of day to read to my children.”

The Sacramento Bethlehem Sitter City and the Boulder Nablus Sister City contributed to the publication of the new children’s books and together with MECA we are exploring the possibility of publishing bilingual Arabic-English editions.