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Celebrating Arab American Heritage: Resources for both in and out of the classroom

Posted on: March 29, 2024
Posted By: CEA Communications
Posted in: Blog
Tagged: Arab American Heritage Month, Cultural

 

Arab American Heritage Month is a time dedicated to celebrating the rich heritage and invaluable contributions of Arab Americans both past and present. It serves as a poignant reminder to honor their remarkable achievements and recognize their significant impact on our nation. Additionally, this month stands as an opportunity to confront and combat Anti-Arab bigotry, challenging stereotypes and prejudices that persist in our society. Together, let us celebrate diversity and promote inclusivity, fostering a culture of understanding and acceptance for all.

It’s important to understand that the term “Arab” transcends mere geographical boundaries; it’s a cultural and linguistic designation that encompasses a diverse array of peoples and traditions. The Arab world comprises 22 countries spanning the Middle East and North Africa, united by their membership in the Arab League. From Algeria to Yemen, these nations share a common heritage and language, fostering a rich tapestry of culture and history.

In the United States, the Arab American community is a vibrant and integral part of our society, comprising approximately 3.7 million individuals, according to the Arab American Institute. In Colorado alone, over 42,000 people proudly trace their roots to Arab ancestry, with communities hailing from nations such as Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, Morocco, and Jordan. In Denver, nearly 7,200 individuals proudly claim Arab heritage, with over 3,000 households in Denver county reporting Arabic as their spoken language at home in 2019.

As we celebrate National Arab American Heritage Month, let us not only honor the achievements of Arab Americans but also reaffirm our commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and mutual respect. By recognizing and embracing the richness of Arab American heritage, we strengthen the fabric of our nation and uphold the ideals of unity in diversity that lie at the core of the American experience.

Together, let us celebrate the vibrant tapestry of Arab American culture and heritage, ensuring that their contributions are acknowledged and cherished for generations to come.

Check out all the resources below, which include exhibitions, lesson plans, recommended reading, and more, for use both in and out of the classroom.

Prominent Arab Americans who made an impact on Public Education and Workers’ Rights 

  • Helen Thomas: A pioneering journalist of Lebanese descent, Helen Thomas made significant contributions to public education through her groundbreaking work as a White House correspondent, enlightening the public about political affairs for decades.
  • Linda Sarsour: Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour has been a vocal advocate for social justice and educational reform, particularly focusing on issues affecting marginalized communities within the American education system.
  • Donna Shalala: Former Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton, Donna Shalala, of Lebanese descent, has been a key figure in public education policy, advocating for initiatives to improve access to quality education for all Americans.
  • George Mitchell: Of Lebanese descent, George Mitchell, a former U.S. Senator, played a pivotal role in brokering peace agreements and advocating for labor rights throughout his career, contributing to advancements in labor unions and international diplomacy.
  • Dalia Mogahed: A prominent Muslim-American scholar and activist, Dalia Mogahed has been a vocal advocate for education reform and social justice, working to empower marginalized communities and promote interfaith understanding within educational settings.
  • Anousheh Ansari: Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-American engineer and space explorer, immigrated to the United States as a child. She has since become a leading advocate for STEM education, particularly for girls and underrepresented minorities, inspiring future generations to pursue careers in science and technology.
  • Ralph Nader: Known for his consumer advocacy work, Ralph Nader, of Lebanese descent, has been a prominent figure in public education, advocating for improved safety standards and consumer rights.

 

Reading List

Throughout the month, and all year long, we encourage families, educators, and students to dive into a book about the history, culture, and experiences of the Arab community. The suggestions below are just a few of many titles, with works of fiction and non-fiction for every grade level that feature characters and perspectives that are often not reflected in other popular works. We hope you will enjoy reading and learning from these outstanding stories.

Early Readers (Grades PK–2)

  • The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story, by Aya Khalil; illustrated by Anait Semirdzhyan
  • Building Zaha: The Story of Architect Zaha Hadid, by Victoria Tentler-Krylov
  • The Butter Man, by Elizabeth Alalou and Ali Alalou; illustrated by Julie Klear Essakalli
  • The Cat Man of Aleppo, by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha; illustrated by Yuko Shimizu
  • The Day Saida Arrived, by Susana Gómez Redondo; illustrated by Sonja Wimmer
  • Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books, by Susan L. Roth and Karen Leggett Abouraya
  • Lailah’s Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story, by Reem Faruqi; illustrated by Lea Lyon
  • Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey, by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes; illustrated by Sue Cornelison
  • Salma the Syrian Chef, by Danny Ramadan; illustrated by Anna Bron
  • The Story of Hurry, by Emma Williams; illustrated by Ibrahim Quraishi

Elementary (Grades 3–5)

  • Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq, by Mark Alan Stamaty
  • Farah Rocks Fifth Grade, by Susan Muaddi Darraj; illustrated by Ruaida Mannaa
  • A Kid’s Guide to Arab American History, by Yvonne Wakim Dennis and Maha Addasi
  • Muslim Girls Rise: Inspirational Champions of Our Time, by Saira Mir; illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel
  • Shad Hadid and the Alchemists of Alexandria, by George Jreije
  • Silverworld, by Diana Abu-Jaber
  • The Three Lucys, by Hayan Charara; illustrated by Sara Kahn
  • The Treasure of Maria Mamoun, by Michelle Chalfoun
  • The Turtle of Oman, by Naomi Shihab Nye; illustrated by Betsy Peterschmidt
  • Yusra Swims, by Julie Abery and Sally Deng

Middle School (Grades 6–8)

  • Escape from Aleppo, by N.H. Senzai
  • A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return, by Zeina Abirached
  • Habibi, by Naomi Shihab Nye
  • Muhammad Najem, War Reporter: How One Boy Put the Spotlight on Syria, by Muhammad Najem and Nora Neus; illustrated by Julie Robine
  • Nowhere Boy, by Katherine Marsh
  • Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices, edited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeed
  • Other Words for Home, by Jasmine Warga
  • Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood, by Ibtisam Barakat
  • Wishing Upon the Same Stars, by Jacquetta Nammar Feldman
  • Yusuf Azeem is Not a Hero, by Saadia Faruqi

Upper Grades (Grades 9–12)

  • All-American Muslim Girl, by Nadine Jolie Courtney
  • As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow, by Zoulfa Katouh
  • Here to Stay, by Sara Farizan
  • Here We Are Now, by Jasmine Warga
  • Huda F Are You? By Huda Fahmy
  • I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir, by Malaka Gharib
  • Mirage, by Somaiya Daud
  • Saints and Misfits, by S.K. Ali
  • A Stone in My Hand, by Cathryn Clinton
  • We Hunt the Flame, by Hafsah Faizal

Multimedia Resources

Resources for Educators

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