Grades 9-12 Modern Issues

Jump to: Resources | Books for Students | Eyewitness Accounts for Students | Reference Books for Teachers | Multimedia


For high school lesson plans on Geography, History, Current Events/Politics, Economics, and other subjects, click on  the following links: HS lesson plans 

Arab Americans in Arizona: Stories, Traditions, Experiences
A resource book with everything from recipes to crafts to an introduction to Arabic proverbs and language. Students might also be fascinated by the list of famous Arab-Americans (people like singer Paula Abdul, teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe, NFL players like Doug Flutie, consumer activist Ralph Nader, etc.).

Arabs in America Unit
This Lesson plan is from “The Arab World” series. Slides, information, and suggestion for projects to help students learn more about the Arab-American community in the United States.

Conflict in Iraq: Searching for Solutions
The Choices Program
Produced by the Watson Institute for International Studies
Conflict in Iraq: Search for Solutions draws students into the policy debate on the role of the United States in Iraq. Readings and activities provide students with an overview of the history of Iraq, help students understand events surrounding the U.S.-led invasion, and explore the current situation.

Country Themed Culture Kits
Each kit comes with artifacts and activities for teaching about a specific country.  Check out our Morocco culture kit...

Introduction (to the Arab World)
This Lesson plan is from “The Arab World” series. Slides, lessons, artifacts
(including headgear) to teach about the Arabs and their culture.

Iran Through the Looking Glass: History, Reform, and Revolution
One of the Choices program’s curriculum units put out by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, this contains reproducible historical sections and student handouts. Students analyze documents and take on the role of Iranians in 1979 (Iranian Revolution) making plans for their country’s political future. (This lesson works well as a political comparison for Constitution classes or as a key to understanding the current situation of Iran in current issues classes.)

Middle East: Physical Geography
A CD of maps and charts put out by the Arizona Geographic Alliance.

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

Shifting Sands: Balancing U.S. Interests in the Middle East
A curriculum unit from Choices for the 21st Century, Brown University’s Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies. This is a five day lesson (though it could be adapted/shortened) that gets students involved in the debate about U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Non-Fiction Books for Students

Click here for a list of: World History-related books/videos

Click here for a list of: literature/literary films on modern issues

Saddam Hussein: A Biography
By Shiva Balaghi
The recent biography (December 2005) describes the life of the former Iraqi leader.

Afghanistan: The Land
By Erinn Banting
A book with pictures and descriptions of Afghanistan.

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

Democracy in the Middle East
Series Editor: John C. Davenport.
From The World in Focus series, the book offers a variety of views on the prospects for democracy in the Middle East and the U.S. role in promoting democratic developments.

Democracy in the Middle East
Series Editor: John C. Davenport.
From The World in Focus series, the book offers a variety of views on the prospects for democracy in the Middle East and the U.S. role in promoting democratic developments.

Iran: Opposing Viewpoints
Ed. by Laury K. Egendorf
The collection of articles offers many different perspectives on modern Iran. The book addresses such issues as whether Iran is a threat to global security, how the U.S. should respond to Iran, and the status of human rights. (The purpose is to show students different sides of the same issue.)

By Jamal J. Elias
This is an overview of the Muslim religion, essential in understanding modern developments in the Middle East.

 Iran: The People
By April Fast
This book describes and shows lifestyles in Iran.

Iraq: The Culture
By April Fast
This book describes and shows the culture of Iraq.

Iraq: The People
By April Fast
This book describes and shows lifestyles in Iraq.

The Everything Middle East Book
By Jacob M. Fellure
This is an easy-to-read overview of Middle Eastern nations, histories, and conflicts.

Women in the Middle East: Tradition and Change
By Ramsay M. Harik and Elsa Marston
Easy to read with good (though black and white) photographs.

Celebrate Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr with Praying Fasting, and
(National Geographic, “Holidays Around the World” series)
By Deborah Heiligman
Although it is at a low reading level, this book is even interesting to adults due to its great pictures and clear explanations. (It is National Geographic book, so the photography is amazing!)

The Book of Jewish Belief
By Louis Jacobs
This well-organized, thorough book provides short descriptions of all aspects of Jewish beliefs.

The Book of Jewish Practice
By Louis Jacobs
This book provides short, clear descriptions of Jewish customs, holidays, and practices.

Oil in the Middle East
By John King
This book contains beautiful photos and well-written narrative about modern diplomatic and political developments in the Middle East.

This is the main religious text of the Muslim religion.

By Dale Lightfoot
One of the Modern World Issues series. The book gives an overview of Iraq’s geography, history, government, and economy. Colorful pictures and maps make it student-friendly.

Teen Life in the Middle East
By Ali Akbar Mahdi
The book describes the lives of teenagers in the Middle East.

Egypt: The Culture
By Arlene Moskovitch
This book describes and shows the culture of Egypt.

The Arab Americans
By Alixa Naff
This book describes the experiences and contributions of Arab-Americans.

By Saviour Pirotta
From the Holy Cities series, this is a basic introduction to the city of Jerusalem.

Approaching the Qur'an
By Michael Sells
A copy of the Muslim holy book, it also comes with commentaries as well as an Audio CD of Qur’an readings.

Foods of Iran
By Barbara Sheen
This book has lovely photographs and explanations about Iranian food.

Israel: The Culture
By Debbie Smith
This book describes and shows the culture of Israel.

Every Man in this Village Is a Liar 
By Megan K. Stack
A reporter describes her experiences covering Middle Eastern wars from 2001.

The Middle East Today 
By Dona J. Stewart
This book gives political, geographical, and cultural perspectives of the Middle East today.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Iran
By Joseph Taggert
Though published in 2003, this book gives a fairly up-to-date and easy overview of Iran.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Iraq
By Joseph Taggert
Though published in 2003, this book gives a fairly up-to-date and easy overview of Iraq.

Turkish Customs and Traditions 
By Turgay Tuna
This book describes Turkish traditions.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Saudi Arabia
By Colin Wells
Though published in 2003, this book gives a fairly up-to-date and easy overview of Saudi Arabia.

Eyewitness Accounts for Students

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: My Life in Wartime Iraq
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
Ed. 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
The book 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.  Low reading level.

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.

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.

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.

By Joe Sacco
This graphic "novel" explores life in Palestine.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis II: The Story of a Return
By Marjane Satrapi
A two-volume memoir in graphic novel style that describes the author’s childhood during the Iranian Revolution, her schooling abroad during the Iran-Iraq War, and eventual return to her homeland. Grades: 9 – up.  (See the film version - in the multimedia 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.


Reference Books for Teachers

A History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
By Ian J. Bickerton and Carla L. Klausner
A Concise History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Against Empire: Feminisms, Racism, and the West
By Zillah Eisenstein
A feminist, Middle Eastern perspective on globalization and imperialism.

Women of Deh Koh: Lives in an Iranian Village
By Erika Friedl
A book recounting women’s stories about their lives and hopes.

Everyday Life in the Muslim Middle East (2nd edition)
Edited by Donna Lee Bowen and Evelyn A. Early
Thirty-five stories, poems, and essays of ordinary people in various Middle Eastern countries.

The Middle East (9th ed)
Put out by the Congressional Quarterly, this book is a reference (from an American perspective) on Middle Eastern politics and political figures.

The Middle East and Islamic World Reader
Edited by Marvin E. Gettleman and Stuart Schaar
A collection of documents on Islam and Middle Eastern history. (Over half the book is on 20th century conflicts and issues.)

Through Middle Eastern Eyes
By Robert P. Pearson and Leon E. Clark
Award-winning book, updated since September 11, that shows different Middle Eastern perspectives on their societies and cultures.

Blind Chickens and Social Animals: Creating Spaces for Afghan Women’s
Narratives under the Taliban

By Anna M. Pont
Afghani women’s views on their society and their dreams for the future.

Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs, and Rituals
By George Robinson
This wonderfully detailed reference book makes it easy to look up anything you want to know about Judaism.

Historical Atlas of Islam
By Malise Ruthven and Azim Nanji
This includes discussions of modern topics, such as Muslim cinema, internet use in the Muslim world, and human rights. There is also a map that shows the countries of origin of North American Muslims.

Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the
End of the Age of Oil

By Michael C. Ruppert

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.

When the Rain Returns: Toward Justice and Reconciliation in Palestine and Israel
Prepared by an International Quaker Working Party on Israel and Palestine, this book talks about nonviolence in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.


Afghan Star
An Afghan Pop Idol competition has come to Afghani television.  However, even in post-Taliban Afghanistan, you risk your life to sing…. 
DVD format.

Another Side of Peace (2004)
A documentary about an Israeli man who, after losing both his sons in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, sets out to promote peace.  
DVD format. 58 minutes.

Arab World: The Arabs and the West (1997)
Bill Moyers talks with Charles Issawi about the roots of Arab resentment toward the West.
VHS format. 30 minutes.

Arab World: The Bonds of Pride (1997)
Explores Arab cultural ties (language, religion, literature, history).
VHS format. 28 minutes.

Beyond the Mirage (2002)
About the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
DVD and VHS formats. 48 minutes.

Caught in the Crossfires (2002)
Arab-Americans in the U.S. and their struggle with prejudice after 9/11.
VHS format. 54 minutes.

Children in War
The documentary begins by describing how modern internal conflicts target civilians and sets out to examine the effects of such conflicts on children.  After the introduction, there are four segments that can stand alone on four 1990s conflict: Bosnia, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the time of the first intifada, Rwanda, and Northern Ireland.  High school teachers should use only one at a time (because they are painful).    
DVD format.

Christine (1999)
An Iranian documentary about a teenage girl, adopted by Swedish parents, sets off to Iran to find her birth mother. It provides insights into family life and the status of women in Iran.
VHS format. 50 minutes.

Control Room (2004)
Documentary about Al-Jazeera and news coverage in the Arab world.
DVD format. 83 minutes.

Conversations across the Bosphorus (1995)
About Turkish young people.
DVD format. 42 minutes.

Divorce Iranian Style (1998)
In Persian with English subtitles, this documentary gives a vivid picture of women’s life in Iran. (Excerpts could be used in sociology classes.)
DVD format. 80 minutes.

Families of Afghanistan, Families of Egypt, and Families of Israel
Each short video (about 30 minutes) highlights children's lives in two families: one from a rural area, one from a city.
DVD format.

Frontiers of Dreams and Fears (2001)
In Arabic with English subtitles. The story of two Palestinian girls.
VHS format. 56 minutes.

The Fundamental Question
About Islamic fundamentalism.
VHS format. 65 minutes.

Good Kurds, Bad Kurds (2001)
About the differing U.S. foreign policy towards the Iraqi Kurds in the time of Saddam Hussein and the Turkish Kurds.
VHS format. 81 minutes.

Hidden Wars of Desert Storm (2000)
Rather shocking description of U. S. policies during and after the First Gulf War.
VHS format. 60 minutes.

Human Weapon (2002)
About suicide bombers in the Middle East and other areas of the

VHS format. 55 minutes.

In My Own Skin (2001)
Interviews with five Arab-American women after 9/11.
VHS format. 16 minutes.

Independent Media in a Time of War
This film criticizes U.S. media coverage of the Iraq war.
VHS format.

Inside Mecca
A National Geographic special, the film shows the Muslim pilgrimage and its rituals.
DVD format. 60 minutes.

Iran: Veiled Appearances (2002)
This is a documentary of Iran 23 years after the Iranian Revolution.
DVD format. 58 minutes.

Islam: A Pictorial Essay in Four Parts
This documentary has four sections: “The Doctrine,” “The Life of the Prophet and the Faith,” “The History and Culture,” “The Arts and Sciences.”
VHS format. 90 minutes.

Islam: Empire of Faith (2000)
 This is a PBS special.
VHS and DVD formats. 180 minutes.

Islam in America after September 11th (2002)
 This documentary shows the immediate impact of Sept. 11, 2001 on the American Muslim community..
 DVD format. 

The Islamic City (1988)
This film describes Islam and the structure of urban life in the Muslim world.
VHS format. 30 minutes.

Jerusalem: An Occupation Set in Stone? (1995)
This film gives the Palestinian perspective on Jerusalem. (Pair with "Jewish Perspectives on an Israeli-Palestinian Peace").
VHS format. 55 minutes.

Jewish Perspectives on an Israeli-Palestinian Peace
This is the Israeli perspective on current developments (Pair with "Jerusalem: An Occupation Set in Stone.")
VHS format.

Jihad Al-Asghar (2002)
This documentary gives an overview of the history of Islam and how radical Muslims use the ideology of ‘jihad’ (holy war).
DVD format. 40 minutes.

Land of Iran
An Iranian-made film, it gives their own view of their country.
VHS format. 60 minutes.

Muslims: An In-depth Look at What It Means to Be a Muslim in the 21st Century (2002)
A Frontline special, this describes Muslims in America in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks .
DVD format.. 120 minutes.

My Country, My Country
The film shows life in Iraq under American occupation.
 DVD format.

Mystic Iran: The Unseen World (2002)
This documentary shows a spiritual journey through Iran.
VHS and DVD formats. 52 minutes.

Oasis of Peace
This documentary focuses on a village in Israel where Palestinians and Israelis live peacefully together.
VHS format. 28 minutes.

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

Palestinian and Israeli children struggle with issues of war and peace.  (This comes with a lesson plan.)
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.

Rivers of Fire
This film explores the conflict over water in the Middle East.
VHS format. 40 minutes.

Searching for Peace in the Middle East (2006)
This portrayal of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is seen through the eyes of people of diverse backgrounds.
DVD format. 30 minutes.

Shattered Dreams
This Frontline special focuses on the collapse of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks in 2000.
VHS format. 120 minutes.

SOS in Tehran (2001)
Filmed in contemporary social service and psychological institutions in Iran (such as a psychology telephone hotline, group psychotherapy sessions, a mandatory pre-marital sex education course), this film explores the issues and concerns faced by modern Iranians.
VHS format. 52 minutes.

Street Life In Tehran
This film provides brief glimpses of life in Tehran, Iran. The entire film is 43 minutes, but it is divided into three parts. The sections are: a 12-minute part called “Deadtime,” which shows what people do to cope when waiting at traffic lights in the crowded streets of Tehran; a 9-minute part called “The White Station” about a woman trying to get through a Tehran snowstorm to use public transportation; and a 22-minute section called “Tehran: The 25th Hour” about the celebration in Tehran on Sweet Saturday, the day the Iranian National Soccer Team qualified for the World Cup in 1998.
VHS format. 43 minutes.

War Photographer (2001)
VHS format. 96 minutes.

Water Wars
This film shows the Middle Eastern struggle over water rights.
VHS format. 25 minutes.

Whose Is This Song?
If you want to look at ethnic conflict and cultural diffusion, this is a great film.  It traces a popular folksong in Turkey and the Balkans, exploring the different instruments, meanings, and political implications.
DVD format.

Yasser Arafat: Terrorist to Peacemaker (1996)
This is a biography of the Palestinian leader.
VHS format. 50 minutes.

Young Voices from the Arab World: The Lives and Times of Five Teenagers (1998)
30 minutes.

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