‘P is for Palestine’: Illustrated children’s book showcases beauty and strength of Palestinian culture

Middle East
on 5 Comments

The story of Palestine is the story of our humanity at large. It is story of all people, all nations, throughout history, seeking a pride of place.

On September 22nd, 1980, I witnessed losing our home when Saddam Hussein’s army invaded our hometown Ahvaz in Iran close to the Iraqi border. I was 6 years-old. We were lucky though, we relocated to my mother’s hometown of Shiraz and remained safe there, for a while…until the airstrikes began raining down on Shiraz and other cities far from the Iraqi border. Few years into the war, my family and I landed in Sweden as refugees. In Sweden, I met children from other war-zones and exchanged stories with them. It was the plight of the Palestinian refugees that struck a deep cord with me.

In the Swedish refugee camp where we were temporarily located, everyone except for the Palestinians had a recognized nationality and a homeland on the political world map. The Palestinian families’ suffering were intergenerational. Theirs had begun with their grandparents who’d lived or died through Nakba. Their parents were born in refugee camps. The kids in turn were born in the same refugee camps.

Additionally, other than a few family pictures and our own words, we had very little to show or find in our local libraries about our homelands to each other and to our new Swedish neighbors and classmates (who knew nearly nothing about our cultures and our histories).

During those days, there were hardly any empowering books, shows, videos, films about our part of the world. I spent most of my middle school and high school years defending my homeland Iran against Betty Mahmoody’s best-seller book NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER and mass-media’s persistently racist portrayal of Muslim majority countries.

Three decades later, things have changed, for better and for worse. The world is in a far worse shape. But the possibilities for progressive learning and for people coming together and doing good have widened. And for me personally, it has meant merging my academic research (on race, gender, human rights, history), with social activism and my interest in the visual artists and connecting, learning and exchanging ideas with like-minded scholars, artists, and activists through social media to the grassroots.

Thanks to the new digital age, and with the help of the world-renowned typographer, Koroush Beigpour, I have been fortunate to establish the Dr. Bashi social impact startup and offer the kind of durable and nontoxic educational materials in Arabic and Persian, that were lacking, and which I wanted for my own children to others.

Facebook brought the socially conscious artist Golrokh Nafisi to my sphere and we are now working towards diversifying children’s literature and empowering kids through illustrated books. We are doing this for the very children in whom we see ourselves, in the newly arrived refugee children from Syria in Sweden or Germany or the Yemeni refugee children that I meet in New York City public schools.

This is why we are publishing our illustrated P is for Palestine: A Palestine Children’s ABC Book. This book is for the Palestinian child to show her or his friend during a playdate or take to school for a reading.

Sketch from "P is for Palestine"

Sketch from “P is for Palestine”

The tradition of alphabet books goes back several centuries. There are currently countless alphabet books about most countries, cities, and themes in the world—helping inform children about any number of topics, nations and cultures other than their own. A is for America, B is for Brazil, and C is for Canada etc…But none about or for Palestine in the English language. Until now, insh’allah!

Anyone who’s ever been to Palestine or has Palestinian friends, colleagues, neighbors knows that this proud Mediterranean nation is at the center of our world. It is home to the sweetest oranges, most intricate embroideries, great dance moves (Dabkeh), fertile olive groves, and sunniest people! Inspired by Palestinian people’s own rich history in the literary and visual arts, an academic/children’s author and a socially conscious illustrator teamed up to create a book titled P is for Palestine in English where they tell the story of the Palestine as simply as ABC…in an educational, colorful, empowering way, showcasing the beauty and strength of Palestinian culture.

A is for Arabic, my tongue, a language that’s the 4th biggest ever sung!

B is for Bethlehem, my birthplace with the best Baklawas, put it on a plate not in a vase!

M is for Miftah, Key of Return…Mama’s Mama, and my Jiddah’s Mama’s, for which I yearn! (Image from P is for Palestine)

M is for Miftah, Key of Return…Mama’s Mama, and my Jiddah’s Mama’s, for which I yearn! (Image from P is for Palestine)

I hope anyone reading this will pre-purchase a copy or copies of P is for Palestine today. We have only until January 15th, 2017 to reach our fundraising goal.

One copy of P is for Palestine costs $12 USD only (with free shipping within the U.S.) and there are more perks (4 book for $45, 10 books for $110) and other wholesale offers, please visit to make your pre-purchase today.

I am asking that YOU inform every person or organization that may be interested in this book that we cannot publish P is for Palestine without their support.

Please email your list or share this Mondoweiss article or the link to the fundraiser on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr: https://www.launchgood.com/project/p_is_for_palestine

Thank you!

About Dr. Golbarg Bashi

Dr. Golbarg Bashi holds a Ph.D. in Middle East Studies from Columbia University. She teaches History at Pace University and is also the founder of Dr. Bashi™, a social impact children's educational start-up focused on languages with the Arabic script. Read more about her work here.

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5 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    December 23, 2016, 8:46 am

    excellent video on the purchase link too!

  2. just
    December 23, 2016, 12:04 pm

    I love this. So, so many thanks, Dr. Bashi.

    “Anyone who’s ever been to Palestine or has Palestinian friends, colleagues, neighbors knows that this proud Mediterranean nation is at the center of our world. It is home to the sweetest oranges, most intricate embroideries, great dance moves (Dabkeh), fertile olive groves, and sunniest people.”

    Many thanks to you. Your efforts and gifts are precious work~ for our entire world.

    Mubarak. Shukraan.

    • Misterioso
      December 25, 2016, 7:04 pm

      And Palestine is home to the world’s mightiest and most beautiful women.
      They are the bedrock of their people.

  3. xanadou
    December 23, 2016, 6:34 pm

    Done!

    Best wishes to the authors and all the kids who now have a place whether their own or their Palestinian friends’ to which they can relate.
    Oh, and perhaps you’d like to publish the next or alternative edition(s) as a colouring book?

  4. xanadou
    December 23, 2016, 6:43 pm

    Good Lawrrd!

    2016 is closing with a bit of fabulous news. The Israelis will, of course, ignore this to the boring chorus of “the whole world is anti-semitic”, and will continue unabated, but the times they are a-changing;

    https://972mag.com/five-takeaways-what-the-un-security-council-resolution-means/123897/

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