Grades 9-12 English

Jump to: Resources | Fiction Books | Personal Accounts| Poetry | Reference Books for Teachers | Multimedia


Click here for lesson plans: HS Literature

Country Themed Culture Kits
Each kit comes with artifacts and activities for teaching about a specific country.

A book of lesson plans and supplementary materials. If you read one of the non-fiction memoirs (listed below) by Palestinian or Israeli writers, you may want to use this video/lesson set, a documentary that follows seven Palestinian and Israeli children over a four-year period of time. It portrays their lives, hopes, and contacts with each other.
VHS or DVD format. 106 minutes

Click here for a list of: non-fiction related to modern issues

Click here for a list of: non-fiction related to World History

Fiction Books

 Ten Things I Hate About Me
By Randa Abdel-Fattah
An Australian teenager of Lebanese descent struggles to reconcile her conflicting identities.  **Combine this with the film "Muslims: An In-Depth Look at What It Means To Be a Muslim in the 21st Century" in the Multi-Media section below. 

Year of the Elephant
By Leila Abouzeid
The Moroccan struggle for independence is seen through the eyes of a working-class woman.

The Bridge on the Drina
By Ivo Andric
This internationally-acclaimed Bosnian novel describes (as a series of short stories set in different time periods) a small town in Bosnia during the years of Ottoman rule.  A teacher can easily use one or two stories, rather than the whole novel.

Forgotten Fire
By Adam Bagdasarian
Although the book is a work of fiction, it is based on the true experiences of the author's great-uncle, who was a teenager during the Armenian genocide.

The Little Black Fish
By Samad Behrangi
An Iranian short story, made to be read aloud. It has many different levels of meaning - about breaking out of one’s narrow environment and learning about the wider world Even more interesting is the fact that the author, a school teacher might have been murdered in 1968 at the age of 29 by the shah’s secret police because of the way he encouraged his elementary school students to think freely and look at the social problems of their country. This small book also is written half in Persian, so kids can see what the language looks like and how the cover of a Middle Eastern book is the back of an American one (since they write from right to left).

Nasreddin Hodja
By Mehmet Ali Birant
A collection of short (often humorous) anecdotes about an early 13th century Turkish figure. It’s as interesting for its beautiful Ottomanstyle illustrations as for the stories.

People of the Book
By Geraldine Brooks
A novel about a book expert,who is offered a job to analyze and preserve the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which had been rescued during the Bosnian war. When the expert, Hanna, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its salvation back to its creation. Inspired by a true story.  **Note: You can also check out our replica of the Sarajevo Haggadah to show your class.  It comes with a booklet explaining the artwork and historical significance.  (See the Special Books section below.)

Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees
By Deborah Ellis
This book provides an oppurtunity for students to read interviews with Iraqi refugee children and see how the war has affected their lives.

The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf
By Mohja Kahf
A novel about a Muslim girl growing up and entering adulthood in Indiana, “exploring the fault lines between ‘Muslim’ and ‘American.’”

Wanting Mor
By Rukhsana Khan
An Afghani girl struggles to make a life in post-Taliban Afghanistan.  

A Little Piece of Ground
By Elizabeth Laird
Award-winning novel about a 12-year-old Palestinian boy and his efforts to find a place to play soccer.

The Apprentice's Masterpiece: A Story of Medieval Spain
By Melanie Little
A young adult novel set in 14th-century Spain, tells the story of a family with a secret at a time when the Inquisition brings intolerance and torture. Written in elegant free verse this is a dramatic story set in a troubling time.

Fountain and Tomb
By Naguib Mahfouz
A short novel by an Egyptian Nobel prizewinning author. The book describes a neighborhood in Cairo in the 1920’s.

Voices from the Other World
By Naguib Mahfouz
A collection of ancient Egyptian short stories retold by an Egyptian Nobel prize-winning author.

On the Other Side of Mount Ararat: The Story of a Vanished City
By Mariam Manoukian and Elize Manoukian
A girl grows up in the last days of the Ottoman Empire and experiences the Armenian genocide.

Figs and Fate
By Elsa Marston
A collection of short stories about teenagers growing up in the Arab world today.

Santa Claus in Baghdad and Other Stories about Teens in the Arab World
By Elsa Marston
A wonderful collection of short stories.  The title story, “Santa Claus in Baghdad,” can be compared with “The Gift of the Magi.”  ***See the wonderful film made from the former story in the Multi-media section below.  

Dawn and Dusk
By Alice Mead
A story of a 13-year-old Kurdish boy during the time of the Iran-Iraq War (and the Iraqi poison gas attack on some Kurdish villages).

Exit Wounds
By Rutu Modan
In this graphic novel, a young Israeli man searches for his father, who may or may not have been killed in a suicide bombing attack.

The Feminine Art
By Weam Namou
Set in the U.S. and Iraq in the early 1990s, the book deals with issues of love, arranged marriages, and the search for happiness.

By Naomi Shihab Nye
About a girl, Liyana, whose father decides to return to Palestine, a place that Liyana has never seen. Her friendship with Omer, a Jewish boy, helps her adjustment to a strange land, but the friendship is forbidden in a land torn by conflict.

My Name is Red
By Orhan Pamuk
A non-traditional mystery set in the 15th century Ottoman Empire. The author is a famous Turkish writer.

A Hand Full of Stars
By Rafik Schami
About a Syrian teenager’s encounter with censorship. “If you tell the truth in Syria, you must pay with your life.” (grade 7 and up)

The Art of the Turkish Tale
By Barbara K. Walker and Helen Siegl
This is a collection of Turkish literature.

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea
By Valérie Zenatti
Inspired by a true story, A Bottle in the Gaza Sea is the story of Tal Levine, an Israeli teenager who longs to strike up a correspondence with "someone on the other side."  She convinces her brother, who is serving in the Israel Defense Forces along the Gaza border, to throw a bottle containing a message into the Gaza Sea in the hopes that someone will pick it up and respond. In this way, she meets "Gazaman," a sarcastic Palestinian who, at first, only mocks her.  As their correspondence continues, however, their casual e-mail exchange turns into something deeper.  This "letter in a bottle" tale for the Web 2.0 generation does not shy away from deeper issues, especially in the wake of tragedies that afflict both Tal and Gazaman along the way.  

Personal Accounts

Return to Childhood: The Memoir of a Modern Moroccan Woman
By Leila Abouzeid
This is the memoir  of a woman growing up during the time of Morocco's struggle for independence.

Thura's Diary
By Thura Al-Windawi
A girl describes her life in Iraq during the 2003 U.S. military action.

Tasting the Sky
By Itbisam Barakat
A beautifully written book about her childhood as a Palestinian refugee. Young people can relate to her vivid tale of youth, family relationships, and overcoming adversity.

If You Could Be My Friend
Edited by Litsa Boudalika
Two teenagers, Mervet Akram Sha’ban and Galit Fink, one Palestinian and one Israeli teenager, corresponded with each other for three years when “introduced” by a Belgian film director, producing a documentary in Israel.

The Illustrator's Notebook
By Mohieddin Ellabbad
This book (with a rather low reading level) is an award-winning autobiography with photographs and drawings of an Egyptian illustrator focusing on his art and how art is connected with his personal experience and the broader context of Egypt’s history. 

Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak
By Debora Ellis
A collection of accounts of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by children ages 8-18.

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less
By Sarah Glidden
This graphic "novel" is an account of the Jewish author's "birthright" tour of Israel and her attempt to understand the complex history of the nation.

Encounters with the Middle East: True Stories of People and Culture That Help You Understand the Region
By Nesreen Khashan and Jim Bowman
The book contains different (and readable) stories about Westerners' encounters with the Middle East.

Three Cups of Tea
By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Greg Mortenson tells of his travels in rural  Pakistan and Afghanistan and his struggle to build schools for girls.

We Just Want to Live Here
By Amal Rifa’i and Odelia Ainbinder
A Palestinian and an Israeli teenager, who met in an exchange program overseas, write to each other about their lives and the tragic conflict in their country.

Persepolis and Perselopis II
By Marjane Satrapi
The two-volume memoir in graphic novel style describes the author’s childhood during the Iranian Revolution, her schooling abroad during the Iran-Iraq War, and eventual return to her homeland.  **See the acclaimed animated film version (in the Multi-Media section below).

Pride of Baghdad
By Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon
A graphic novel based on the true story of a group of lions that escaped from the Baghdad zoo during the American bombing in 2003. It asks questions about liberty, whether it can be given or must be earned, whether it is better to die free or live in captivity.

When I Was a Soldier
By Valerie Zenatti
Memoir of a teenage Israeli girl serving her required two years in the military.


The Son of a Duck is a Floater
By Primrose Arnander, Ashkhain Skipwith, and Kathryn Lamb
This book contains Arabic traditional sayings with English equivalents.

Emails from Scheherazade
By Mohja Kahf
The poems in this book describe Arab immigrants to America and their experiences.

Ismailia Eclipse
By Khaled Mattawa
This collection of poems is by a Libyan-American writer.

The Flag of Childhood: Poems from the Middle East
By Naomi Shihab Nye
A collection of poems from Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Egypt, and other parts of the Middle East.

Nineteen Varieties of Gazelle
By Naomi Shihab Nye
A collection of poems by a Palestinian-American poet.

The Space Between Our Footsteps
By Naomi Shihab Nye
An anthology of over 100 poets and artists from 19 Middle Eastern countries.

Special Books

The Essential Koran
Ed. and Translated by Thomas Cleary
This is an introductory selection of readings from the Muslim holy book.

The Sarajevo Haggadah
This is a lovely reproduction of a 14th century Jewish book brought to Bosnia by Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition.  The book comes with a booklet explaining its colorful history and artwork, but it can also be used with Geraldine Brooks' fictional account: "People of the Book."  (See Fiction section above.) 

The Soul of the Text: An Anthology of Jewish Literature
This includes selections of literature from the Bible and medieval commentaries, rabbinical literature, Yiddish literature, and the Holocaust.

Refernece Books for Teachers

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People
By Jack G.Shaheen
If you are doing a lesson on propaganda or on different points of view, this thick reference book will give you plenty of food for thought.

The Art of the Turkish Tale
By Barbara K. Walker
About the art of storytelling and Turkish literature.


Arabian Nights (1999)
A vivid but long Hollywood production of the classic literary work. A teacher could use parts of this to give the students a sense of the story.
VHS format. 175 minutes.

Independent Media in a Time of War
This Democracy Now! video criticizes U.S. media coverage of the Iraq war. VHS format. 29 minutes.

Muslims: An In-Depth Look at What It Means to Be a Muslim in the 21st Century
This Frontline film describes the lives of Muslims in a post-9/11 world.
DVD format.

Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land (2004)
This film explores the effect of U.S. foreign policy on our media coverage of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.
VHS format. 80 minutes.

This award-winning animated film is the story of the author's childhood, teenage years, and young adulthood in Iran just before, during, and after the Iranian Revolution and Iran-Iraq War. It is in French with English subtitles. (Note that there is a brief sexual encounter in the story - but it is animated, not live-action.
DVD format.

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People
If you are doing a lesson on propaganda or on different points of view, this DVD is wonderful. Be sure you preview it in advance to be sure some of the film clips aren’t too violent for your school’s regulations.
DVD format. 50 minutes.

Santa Claus in Baghdad
A beautiful short fictional story that can be compared with “The Gift of the Magi.”  Iraqis living during the bleak time of international sanctions just before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein try to find gifts for people that they love. (Note: The story can be found in the collection of short stories by Elsa Marston.)
DVD format. 35 minutes.

Key Word(s) of the Page: