By Johara Al Mogbel
After much intensive research, we’ve discovered that the childhood experiences that held the longest for us were the picture books we read as children.
The Children of the Moon
Islam goes by the lunar calendar and this book is a great introductory to the lunar months. The story follows a little girl called Ramah who meets the months, learns how they got their name and what special occasion is attached to them. Some of the information we knew and others were quite new to us. Who can say no to cute jelly kids? We can’t, that’s for sure.
Recommended for ages: 3-8
Essam Doesn’t Like Bathing
Funny little short book meant to encourage Aquaphobic (fear of water) kids to take regular baths. The illustrations are amusing and it’ll give you and your child a little chuckle. King Abdulaziz Public Library published it, which is one of our favorite book sources. They’re a huge support to Saudi writers and illustrators, and their books are some of the most decently priced in bookstores.
Recommended for ages: 1-5
Fizo The Respectable
Another funny short book. This is a newfound favorite because Fizo is such an awesome little guy, his antics makes you happy. He has introduced Arabic whimsy in a field where most books carry heavy moral codes.
Recommended for ages: 4-10
This technically isn’t a Saudi book, as it’s been translated into Arabic from Japanese, but we’re including it because of the gorgeous illustrations and lovely story. It is a part of cultural folklore series, and we love learning about different cultures and traditions.
Recommended for ages: 6-12
Sultan of the Moon
This story is about never giving up on your dreams. It follows a boy named Sultan as he goes camping with his family and somehow manages to visit the moon. We can’t say anymore without spoiling it, but we can tell you this: the ending is a great surprise! The author has a number of other titles all published through her own publishing company, and we can attest that they’re all quite good and well illustrated.
Recommended for ages: 5-10
Once Upon a Mutant
Imagine our delight when we found an English book by a Saudi author! This book follows the adventures of a kind boy as he meets a number of mutants who aren’t too friendly in the beginning. And the story is in rhyme!
Recommended for ages: 3-5
This is another translated work, this time from English to Arabic, done by Dar Bloomsbury of Qatar. The illustrations will captivate your children (and you), and the underlying moral of the story is so heart wrenching, it’s an excellent way to introduce the kids to the history of colonialism and the damages it inflicted on the colonized people. A pretty heavy subject, but it was tackled in a smart manner. Recommended for ages: 6-12
That Cloud That Turned Into Snow
We recommend this one for children who need a little nudge towards living their childhood, and also for the ones who think setting suns look like oranges. Actually, we just plain recommend this book.
Recommended for ages: 3-8
Adventures of a Paperweight
The cover is gorgeous and the concept is top-notch, although we think the writing needs some improving. Overall it’s a very good option to introduce your kiddos to longer chapters.
Recommended for ages: 7-11
Our favorite place to find all these books is the brilliant Kan Ya Makan children’s bookstore! They stock a large number of books and their prices are quite reasonable. Plus, every Friday, the bookstore holds a storytelling event, which is a nice option when you want to take the kids out somewhere useful on the weekends. They also host a number of parenting lectures for parents, and self-defense lectures for kids.
Location: Hussein Bin Ali St.