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Middle East & South Asian Countries – Picture Books

November 16, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Picture books which take place in specific Middle Eastern and South Asian countries:
Afghanistan ; Armenia ; Azerbaijan ; Bahrain ; Bangladesh ; Bhutan ; British Indian Ocean Territory ; Gaza Strip ; Georgia ; India ; Iran ; Iraq ; Israel ; Jordan ; Kuwait ; Lebanon ; Maldives ; Nepal ; Oman ; Pakistan ; Qatar ; Saudi Arabia ; Sri Lanka ; Syria ; Turkey ; United Arab Emirates ; West Bank ; Yemen

MIDDLE EAST (download .doc) or MIDDLE EAST (download .pdf)


The Roses in My Carpets by Rukhsana Khan (Holiday House 1998) 12*
When a young boy and his mother and sister come to a refugee camp to escape the war in Afghanistan, he finds some comfort in the beauty of the carpets he is learning to weave.

Caravan by Lawrence McKay (Lee & Low 1995) 15*
A ten-year-old boy accompanies his father for the first time on a caravan trip through the mountains of Afghanistan to the city below where they will trade their goods at market.

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter (Beach Lane 2009) 60*
Nasreen stops speaking and tries to isolate herself after the Taliban take her parents, but with the help of a good friend and a secret school, Nasreen slowly begins to break out of her shell.

Waiting for the Owl’s Call by Gloria Whelan (Sleeping Bear 2009) 19*
While eight-year-old Zulviya labors over a loom, weaving a rug just as generations of the women in her Turkoman family have done, she is comforted by imagining a new pattern inspired by the landscape of Afghanistan.


A Drop of Honey: An Armenian Tale by Djemma Bider (Simon & Schuster 1989) 19
After being bad-tempered with her brothers, Anayida falls asleep and dreams of the terrible things that can happen because of the spilling of a single drop of honey.

The Golden Bracelet by David Kherdian (Holiday House 1998) 26*
In order to win the hand of his love, indolent Prince Haig learns to weave beautiful golden cloth, a craft that later saves his life.

A Weave of Words: An Armenian Tale by Robert D. San Souci (Orchard 1998) 74*
A reworking of Armenian folktales in which a lazy prince learns to read, write, and weave to win his love only to have these very talents later save him from a three-headed monster.

The Contest by Nonny Hogrogian (Greenwillow 1976) 73*
An Armenian folktale about two robbers courting the same woman.


Kamal’s Quest by Cynthia Profilet (Sterling 1993) 1
Tells the story of a camel (Kamal), who searches for love and friendship in the desert country of Bahrain.


Sacred River by Ted Lewin (Clarion, 1994)
Introduces the river where millions of Hindu pilgrims go to purify their souls and find salvation.

Yasmin’s Hammer by Ann Malaspina (Lee & Low 2010) 13
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, as two girls work hard all day to help support their family by chipping bricks into small pieces, older sister Yasmin seeks a way to attend school and learn to read so that she can have a better life one day. Includes author’s note about conditions in Bangladesh, child labor, and how to help.

Twenty-Two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank by Paula Yoo (Lee & Low, 2014)
A biography of Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who from a young age was determined to make difference in the world and eventually revolutionized global antipoverty efforts by developing the innovative economic concept of micro-lending. Includes an afterword and author’s sources. Biography


Anni’s India Diary by Alan Axworthy (Whispering Coyote 1992) 18
A ten-year-old’s diary entries chronicle the magical sights and sounds she and her family encounter as they explore India.

The Story of Little Babaji by Helen Bannerman (Farrar 1996) 100*
A retelling of the well-known tale in which a little Indian boy finally outwits the succession of tigers that want to eat him.

The Birdman by Veronika Martenova Charles (Tundra 2006) 9
When his family dies suddenly, Noor Nobi, a humble tailor in Calcutta, India, finds a way to mend his broken heart by purchasing, healing, and releasing illegally caged birds. Based on a true story.

The Road to Mumbai by Ruth Jeyabeeran (Houghton Mifflin 2004) 45
Shoba and her pet monkey, Fuzzy Patel, set out overnight by flying bed to attend Fuzzy’s cousin’s wonderful wedding in Mumbai, India.

Monsoon by Uma Krishnaswami (Farrar 2003) 44
A child describes waiting for the monsoon rains to arrive and the worry that they will not come.

Selvakumar Knew Better by Virginia L. Kroll (Shen’s Books 2006) 21*
When a giant tsunami approaches his village, seven-year-old Dinakaran is saved by the family dog. Based on a true story; includes facts about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The Poombah of Badoombah by Dee Lillegard (Putnam’s 1998) 11
When the powerful but mischievous Poombah of Badoombah finally takes things a bit too far, he is forced to flee the city and live out the rest of his days in the quiet of the countryside.

Baya, Baya, Lulla-by-a by Megan McDonald (Atheneum 2003) 55*
As a mother in rural India sings to her baby, a weaverbird builds a nest for its young.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (Morrow 1997) 133*
A courageous mongoose thwarts the evil plans of Nag and Nagaina, two big black cobras who live in the garden.

The Nine Animals and the Well by James Rumford (Houghton 2003) 92*
A fable about a group of animals which strives to bring the perfect present to the Indian raja-king’s birthday party. Discusses how the numerals we use originated in India.

The Sanyasin’s First Day by Ned Shank (Cavendish 1999) 17
Describes the first day of work for several different people including a holy man, a farmer, a plumber, and a policeman, many of whom end up interacting with one another in the course of a day.

Monsoon Afternoon by Kashmira Sheth (Peachtree 2008) 34
A young boy and his grandfather find interesting things to do on one rainy day during monsoon season.


The Earth Shook: A Persian Tale by Donna Jo Napoli (Hyperion 2009) 15
Little Parisa-Farsi, left alone after an earthquake demolishes her home of Bam, Iran, inspires the animals around her to put aside their differences and revel in the simple delights that unite them.

Ali and the Magic Stew by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim (Boyds Mills 2002) 14
Ali, a spoiled, selfish boy, son of a wealthy Persian merchant, treats everyone with disdain until his beloved father falls ill and he must seek help from a beggar to obtain the ingredients for a stew to relieve the suffering.


The Girl Who Lost Her Smile by Karim Alrawi (Winslow 2000) 5
A story about a young Persian girl who unexpectedly finds reason to smile, inspired by the writings of Jallal al -Din Rumi in a collection of Sufi poetry and short stories known as Mathnawi.

Silent Music by James Rumford (Roaring Brook, 2008)
As bombs and missiles fall on Baghdad in 2003, a young boy uses the art of calligraphy to distance himself from the horror of war.


Behold the Trees by Sue Alexander (Scholastic 2001) 39*
A land once protected by all sorts of wonderful trees is reduced over time by war and environmental neglect to desert, until new inhabitants plant trees and slowly make Israel bloom again.

Chicken Man by Michelle Edwards (Lothrop 1991) 32*
Each time Chicken Man is moved into a new job on the kibbutz, someone else wants to take that job instead, and the chickens suffer as a consequence.

First Rain by Charlotte Herman (Albert Whitman, 2010)
When Abby moves with her family to Israel, where it does not rain all summer, she misses her grandmother and remembers the fun they used to have splashing in puddles together.




I, Doko: The Tale of a Basket by Ed Young (Philomel 2004) 50*
A Nepalese basket tells the story of its use through three generations of a family.


King for a Day by Rukhsana Khan (Lee & Low, 2013)*
Even though he is confined to a wheelchair, a Pakistani boy tries to capture the most kites during Basant, the annual spring kite festival, and become “king” for the day. Includes an afterword about the Basant festival.

Ruler of the Courtyard by Rukhsana Khan (Viking 2003)*
After confronting what she believes to be a snake in the bath house, Saba finds the courage to overcome her fear of the chickens in the courtyard.

Silly Chicken by Rukhsana Khan (Viking 2005)*
In Pakistan, Rani believes that her mother loves their pet chicken Bibi more than she cares for her, until the day that a fluffy chick appears and steals Rani’s own affections.

Listen to the Children: The Story of Dr. Greg and Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortenson (Dial 2011)
Farzana relates events surrounding the terribly destructive 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, and how she and another girl gave advice to Dr. Greg, an American humanitarian who came to help.

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (Dial 2009)*
Tells the true story of a man who became lost and delirious after an unsuccessful trek to the top of K2, was saved by the locals of a remote Himalayan village, and kept his vow to return one day to build them a new school as a gesture of sincere appreciation and gratitude for what they did for him in his time of need. Nonfiction

The Carpet Boy’s Gift by Pegi Deitz Shea (Tilbury House, 2003)*
Yearning for freedom and schooling for himself and the other children who toil in a carpet factory in Pakistan to repay loans from the factory owner to their parents, Nadeem is inspired by a former carpet boy named Iqbal to lead the way.

The Gifts of Wali Dad: A Tale of India and Pakistan by Aaron Shepard (Atheneum, 1995)
An Indian/Pakistani folktale in which an impoverished grass-cutter finds that gifts can be a mixed blessing. Folklore

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams (Eerdmans, 2007)*
Two young Afghani girls living in a refugee camp in Pakistan share a precious pair of sandals brought by relief workers. Includes author’s note about refugees.


Nadia’s Hands by Karen English (Boyds Mills, 1999)*
A Pakistani-American girl takes part in her aunt’s traditional Pakistani wedding.

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan (Viking, 2010)*
Having to take her younger sister along the first time she is invited to a birthday party spoils Rubina’s fun, and later when that sister is asked to a party and baby sister wants to come, Rubina must decide whether to help.




When the Rain Comes by Alma Fullerton (Pajama Press, 2017)
Malini, a young girl in a small Sri Lankan community, is anxious about the responsibility of helping with the monsoon-season rice planting for the first time. When a flash flood leaves her stranded alone with the ox cart full of rice seedlings, she summons unexpected courage to calm the ox and save her town’s rice crop.

Tea Leaves by Frederick Lipp (Mondo 2003) 1
Nine-year-old Shanti, who lives in the mountains of Sri Lanka, has her wish come true when her Uncle Nochi takes her to see the Indian Ocean.

The Quail’s Egg: A Folk Tale from Sri Lanka by Joanna Troughton (Peter Bedrick, 1988)
Presents a cummulative folk tale about a mother quail’s efforts to recover her egg after it rolls into the crevice of a rock. Folklore

The Umbrella Thief by Sybil Wettasinghe (Kane/Miller, 1987)
When each of the umbrellas he brings back to his village disappears, Kiri Mama devises a plan to track down the thief.


The Hungry Coat: A Tale from Turkey by Demi (Margaret McElderry 2004) 82
After being forced to change to a fancy new coat to attend a party, Nasrettin Hoca tries to feed his dinner to the coat, reasoning that it was the coat that was the invited guest.

Nabeel’s New Pants: An Eid Tale by Fawzia Gilani-Williams (Cavendish 2010) 49*
While buying gifts for his family to wear to the mosque on Eid a shoemaker is persuaded to get new pants for himself, but the only pair available is too long and no one seems to have time to shorten them.

Goha, the Wise Fool by Denys Johnson-Davies (Philomel 2005) 62
A collection of fourteen tales about the folk hero Nasreddin Hoca, also known as Goha, a man with a reputation for being able to answer difficult questions in a clever way.

A Donkey Reads by Muriel Mandell (Star Bright 2011) 1
In a small village in Anatolia, even the poorest villager is expected to pay tribute to a tyrranical Mongol ruler, but the wiseman, Nasreddin Hoca, finds a way to make an aged donkey seem most valuable.

The Deliverance of Dancing Bears by Elizabeth Stanley (Kane/Miller 2003) 17
A captive bear in Turkey, abused by her master and made to dance for money, longs in vain to return to the wild, until she encounters an old man whose dream is to set her and other captive animals free.

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