As an educator and mother who is passionate about multilingual and multicultural education, I was so excited to hear about a new children’s book coming out entitled “P is for Palestine: A Palestine ABC Book” by Dr. Golbarg Bashi.
Dr. Bashi is a professor of history in New York, a mother, and the founder of Dr. Bashi, a social impact children’s educational start-up. I had the honor to interview her regarding her LaunchGood campaign and her book.
Muslim Girl: Please tell our readers about your new book, “P is for Palestine: A Palestine ABC Book.”
Dr. Golbarg 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! Inspired by Palestinian people’s own rich history in the literary and visual arts, I have written a book titled “P is for Palestine” in English.
Together with a wonderful illustrator named Golrokh Nafisi, we tell the story of the Palestine that we love as simply as ABC in an educational, colorful, empowering way, showcasing the beauty and strength of Palestinian culture — very much like a traditional illustrated alphabet book about a country that teaches the ABC’s through geographical and cultural landmarks, festivals, cuisine, and history.
For another few days, we are offering our forthcoming book at a greatly reduced price to our community which enables us to independently self-publish this endeavor.
What inspired you to write the book?
I conceived of the idea for “P is for Palestine“ when I couldn’t find such a book for my children and for the school visits I regularly conduct in New York City public schools in my capacity as an early childhood literacy/diversity advocate.
But my own childhood experiences, as a refugee in Sweden and my close affinity with Palestinian parents and children ARE the main inspiration.
I was 6 years old when I witnessed losing our home near the Iraqi border. When my family and I arrived in Sweden as refugees, I learned about the plight of children from other war-town areas and the Nakba. But back in the mid-1980s, us kids from the Middle East couldn’t find anything empowering in our local libraries about our homelands to show each other or 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 about our part of the world — and mass-media’s persistently racist portrayal of Muslim majority countries only led to more prejudice against immigrant and refugees.
We are inspired to do 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.
So “P is for Palestine“ is the first in our series of illustrated books in which Golrokh and I are working towards diversifying children’s literature and empowering kids through books. We are inspired to do 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. “P is for Palestine: A Palestine ABC Book“ is especially for Palestinian children to show their friends during a playdate, proudly take to school for a reading or to come across in a bookstore or in a library.
What’s your favorite quote from the book?
I have several. The quotes really come to life next to Golrokh’s illustrations (her visual depiction of each letter’s sentence).
“P is for Palestine
Precious to me and my people, evergreen like a forest pine!”
“H is for Handala
Hear his hellos, he is our hero!”
“R is for Ramallah
What age is the book appropriate for and what faiths/backgrounds?
Children 2 years of age and up and of all faiths! Palestine is historically a multi-faith nation. So our book is for Palestinians of all faiths and also American and English-speaking children, their families and classrooms.
Why is the book so important to have in libraries and homes?
Can you tell our readers more about how you plan on giving back to Palestinian schools and refugees?
Throughout writing this book, we have been in close contact with several NGOs and publishers that cater to Palestinian refugee children in and outside of Palestine. All have welcomed the idea of the book and are eagerly awaiting to receive their copies.
But what we really want to do, beside donating copies of the book to these organizations and their schools, is offer an Arabic version of “P is for Palestine:” ف فلسطين: كتاب لتعليم الحروف الأبجدية العربية للأطفال
What’s been your favorite part of this whole campaign and book-writing?
Working with my favorite artist, the socially conscious illustrator Golrokh Nafisi and communicating with Palestinian scholars and artists. It’s been wonderful receiving their constructive feedback and encouraging words, as well as their endorsements.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
I’d like to tell your fabulous readers that I am especially proud and thrilled to be interviewed by Muslim Girl whose founder and editor-in-chief Amani, used to be my student at Rutgers! Go Amani & co. Go!
I’d also like to emphasize that by pre-purchasing “P is for Palestine“ today, your readers are enabling us to have the freedom, the speed, and the independence to publish this book with a state-of-the-art publisher ourselves. If we manage to sell-out the first edition of “P is for Palestine“ in advance, we will use the additional funds to offer the Arabic edition of the book. So please do take advantage of the greatly reduced price of our book (MSRP is $24.99) and help us reach our fundraising goal by Jan. 15, 2017. And don’t miss seeing our book’s video.
Check out Dr. Bashi’s Pinterest also here and purchase a book or two (gift a book to your child’s classroom). Her campaign ends Jan. 20.