• P is For Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book

    by Golbarg Bashi, illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

    Reading a good picture book with a child can be a joyful experience. But picture books that privilege indoctrination over imagination aren’t really literature. They betray the bond of trust between adult and child.

  • Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood

    by Ibtisam Barakat

    The author’s memories of the Six-Day War are poignant, but feelings aren’t history. This memoir inverts responsibility for the war, replacing information with distortion.

  • The Cat at the Wall

    by Deborah Ellis

    Post-October 7 revelations about UNRWA schools expose the naiveté of this dated account of the Second Intifada. It’s not misunderstanding, but hatred, that underlies the Arab-Israeli conflict.

  • These Olive Trees: A Palestinian Family’s Story

    by Aya Ghanameh, illustrated by Aya Ghanameh

    A picture book on Palestinian exile that erases the word “Israel” and falsifies history can have only one goal: to prejudice young readers against Israel and Jews.

  • They Called Me a Lioness: A Palestinian Girl’s Fight for Freedom

    by Ahed Tamimi and Dena Takruri

    Ahed Tamimi is not a model of nonviolent resistance — what she describes as an unarmed “grassroots resistance movement” was actually quite violent — but young readers with no background knowledge about the Middle East will be easily misled by her deceptive autobiography.

  • Uncle Meena

    by Ibtisam Barakat

    As a story assigned to young readers in public school classrooms, there are serious concerns about messages of “Uncle Meena” on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Jewish history, and American Jews.

  • Wishing Upon the Same Stars

    by Jacquetta Nammar Feldman

    Children’s books aiming at even-handedness on the Arab-Israeli conflict usually fail – as novels, because they’re didactic, and as political tracts, because they’re inaccurate. This book is a case in point.

  • Young Palestinians Speak: Living Under Occupation

    by Anthony Robinson and Annemarie Young

    Young readers can learn empathy when they listen to the voices of their contemporaries from other cultures. But when the words they hear are full of lies and distortions, they’re not learning empathy – they’re learning hatred.

Featured author: Naomi shihab nye

Maligning Israel for young readers

The books we read as children stay with us all our lives. In our earliest stories, big, bad wolves threaten innocent children – and few of us grow up with warm, fuzzy feelings about wolves. Replace that wolf with an Israeli soldier, and you have an indelible image. That is the danger of the writings of Palestinian-American children’s poet and novelist Naomi Shihab Nye.