Middle East Book Awards

MEOC established the Middle East Book Awards in 1999 to recognize books for children and young adults that contribute meaningfully to understanding of the Middle East.  Books that are nominated for awards are judged on the authenticity of their portrayal of a Middle Eastern subject, as well as on their plot, characterization, and appeal for the intended audience. 

Year: 2016

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey

Author: Margriet Ruurs Publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Guiding Question:

Should people who are living safely in their country care about the problems of people who are forced to leave their homes due to the violence of war?

You can read about refugees to help you make your decision by clicking on the following links: International Rescue Committee, United Nations Refugee Agency .

 

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

Honesty- Refugees are people who are forced to leave their homes due to the violence of war. If you were traveling from your home to another country with very few belongings, how would you receive medical help if you needed it? How would you get your education? What would happen to your pets? What would happen if you ran out of money? These are a few of the things refugees have to think about. 

Empathy- Read the information about Nizar Ali Badr, the illustrator for this story. How do you think he felt when he was asked to illustrate this book? Why do you think that? 

Advocacy- Look at the websites listed on the page “What can you do to make a difference?” List five things you found out about refugees that is new information to you. How does your list compare to your classmates’ lists? 

Action- Based on what you read on the websites, decide if there is something you and your classmates can do to help refugees. Develop a plan to make it happen. 

Sociology Concepts:

Year: 2014

Razia’s Ray of Hope

Author: Liz Suneby Publisher: Kids Can Press

Guiding Question:

This story demonstrates that education is not available to all women around the world. What are some of the family’s objections to Razia attending school? 

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

  • Honesty- Razia had family members who both were both for and against her attendance at school.  What were the arguments for and against her attending school? Were you surprised by some of the members who supported her? Why or why not?
  • Empathy- Think about the activities and tasks that you do each day.  What would be difficult to do if you did not know how to read?
  • Advocacy- Razia is from Afghanistan, but girls in many other countries do not have access to education.  According to UNICEF, in 2013 an estimated 31 million girls of primary school age were not in school. Find another country where access to education for girls is limited and describe the barriers to education that girls face there. Are they the same or different from the ones Razia faced?  
  • Action- This fictional story is based on the experiences of a real woman named Razia Jan who returned to her home country of Afghanistan from the United States to assist her people after September 2001. In 2007, she founded Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation to improve the lives of young women and girls through education. Go to the Foundation’s website. What are ways in which you might help girls in Afghanistan receive assistance with their educations?   
Sociology Concepts:

Year: 2013

Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books

Author: Karen Leggett Abouraya Publisher: Dial Books

Guiding Question:

What should people who are oppressed do to break free from oppression? Find some examples of people being oppressed and discuss the degree of oppression.

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

  • Honesty- The book starts, “Once upon a time, not a long ago, many people in Egypt were sad and sometimes angry, because they were not free to speak, or vote as they wished, or gather in groups.” This was because their president, Mr. Mubarak, didn’t allow it and used police officers to physically harm and kill people who did not agree with him.
  • Empathy- How would you feel about the government leaders if you knew they were harming people?
  • Advocacy- The beginning of advocacy is to be better informed about issues. Use the internet with your teacher to find out more about the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. What are ways you can be an advocate for your own library?
  • Action- Work with your librarians to create awareness about the event that prompted the book Hands Around the Library.

Support your local library by attending some of their special events. Work with the librarians to let them know events you’d like to participate in that they don’t currently offer. 

Sociology Concepts:
  • Power
  • Oppression
  • Social movements- Collective behaviors designed to bring forth come change

Year: 2012

Folktales from Turkey: From Agri to Zelve

Author: Serpil Ural Publisher: Citlembik Publications, 2012

Guiding Question:

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

Honesty-

Empahty-

Advocacy-

Action-

Sociology Concepts:

Year: 2012

The Wooden Sword: A Jewish Folktale from Afghanistan

Author: Ann Redisch Stampler Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Guiding Question:

There are two main characters in this story. One is the shah of the country. He is very rich and powerful, and is a Muslim by religion. The other is a poor Jewish man who starts out as a shoemaker. How does each man’s socio-economic status, occupation, and religion affect how he acts in this story? 

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

Honesty- The two main characters in the story are of differing religions. People from these two religions don’t always get along. Why do you think that is?

Empahty- The shah uses the information he finds out about the poor man to create decrees that don’t allow the poor man to make money in his usual way. The poor man reacts with faith each time that everything will turn out fine. How would you have reacted in that situation? Do you think the poor man would have responded the same way if he knew the shah had been using their friendship to test the poor man’s faith? How would you have reacted in that situation if you had known what the shah was up to?

Advocacy- The two main characters are of two different social classes. One is the rich leader of his country, and the other is a poor man who abides by laws that change every day. How could you find out if there are laws that work against poor people? For example, early in United States history people had to be able to own land in order to vote. Such a law excluded poor people from having a say in all kinds of things. Are there other laws or school rules that are unfair to poor people? What do you think about homework that requires the use of the internet to complete? Some people have internet access at home while others would need to use computers in libraries. What if they don’t live close to a library?   

Action- Talk about your classes’ rules on homework or other school rules with your teacher. If not all of the rules are in everyone’s best interest, work with your teacher to change the rules.  

Sociology Concepts:

Year: 2011

Mirror

Author: Jeannie Baker Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2010

Guiding Question:

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

Honesty-

Empathy-

Advocacy-

Action-

Sociology Concepts:

Year: 2010

How Many Donkeys: An Arabic Counting Tale

Author: Margaret Read MacDonald and Nadia jameel Taibah Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company

Guiding Question:

Do you make fun of people when you know they’ve made a mistake, like Jouha, or do you try to help them?

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

This book seems a stretch to be used to teach about another culture through the indicated protocol. A more appropriate use for this book might be as an introduction to one the simpleton or noodle tale, or basic Arabic counting. If you would like to write a review for this book, please contact one of the site administrator. We’d love to include your ideas!

Sociology Concepts:

Connecting sociology concepts to this book seems to be too far from its intended use.

Year: 2007

Four Feet, Two Sandals

Author: Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammad Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Guiding Question:

Read the Author's Note at the end of the story. Did you know that the number of refugees world-wide is the highest it's been since the end of World War II and that most of the refugees are children? Think about the many hardships you would face if you had to leave your home due to a war or persecution. With so few things to call your own, would you share you only shoe as Lina and Feroza did? Why or why not?

Howard’s Format from You Can’t Teach What You Don’t Know (73-85)::

Honesty- Many Americans don't understand how fortunate they are. Were you aware that situations such as Lina's and Feroza's were taking place around the world?

Empathy- How would you feel if you had no shoes or had to share as Lina and Feroza had to in the story? The story also stated that there was no room for girls to got o school. How would you react if you weren't allowed to go to schools while others were?

Advocacy- Look further into refugee camps in Afghanistan today. Are they similar to the one in this book? What kinds of things surprised you after you read about them? 

Action- Take action based on what you find when you reserch Afghani refugee campus. For example, you can start a clothing drive to collect clothes to donate to people in need. 

Sociology Concepts: