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The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  440 ratings  ·  134 reviews
That night, Kanzi wraps herself in the beautiful Arabic quilt her teita (grandma) in Cairo gave her and writes a poem in Arabic about the quilt. Next day her teacher sees the poem and gets the entire class excited about creating a “quilt” (a paper collage) of student names in Arabic. In the end, Kanzi’s most treasured reminder of her old home provides a pathway for accepta ...more
Hardcover, 36 pages
Published February 18th 2020 by Tilbury House Publishers
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Average rating 4.42  · 
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 ·  440 ratings  ·  134 reviews

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Aya Khalil
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I wrote The Arabic Quilt from my heart. It's based on true events from my childhood when I immigrated to the US from Egypt when I was one years old. Growing up, I still remember the kind teachers along the way who made me felt welcome. I also still remember the "mean" classmates who excluded me for being different. I hope you and your students, children, and friends enjoy this authentic story. ...more
Noura Khalid (theperksofbeingnoura)
I read this book knowing that there would be representation of the Muslim culture. I wasn't aware that I would end up feeling so much from a picture book that is a few pages. It might be marketed towards children but this book made me recall so many things that I went through in my childhood and I felt this so closely. Absolutely loved this and it's definitely a way to make children become more proud of where they come from and the languages they speak. I'm so excited for the world to see this! ...more
Jessica Haider
4.5 stars. A story about a girl who's parents are immigrants from Egypt. Kanzi is nervous about her first day at a new school and how she will fit in.

This book has an important message about being open & accepting of other's culture.
Miss Amy
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This arc from Tilbury House, to be released Feb. 4, 2020, shares a very relevant story of immigration, acceptance, differences, language, and a teacher encouraging that diversity by embracing each other's languages. It is a gift of coming together to celebrate their differences and inspire others. The expression and feeling within the illustrations compliments the story beautifully. ...more
La Coccinelle
Jun 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, children, netgalley
This is a story about an Egyptian-American girl at a new school. Embarrassed by her language (and her lunch), she finds herself not quite fitting in. But after a project at school where everyone makes a quilt featuring their names written in Arabic, the kids learn that knowing more than one language can be a valuable skill.

The theme and message aren't quite as focussed as I would like. Is it a book about Kanzi's grandmother's quilt? Is it a book about bullying? Racism? Spicy meatballs? There's q
Kirstie Myvett
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's the first day of school and Kanzi must learn to balance this new American way of life with her Egyptian-American life. With the support of her mother, teacher and Teita's quilt, she is able to share her heritage with her classmates - bridging a gap across races and cultures. This story is a reminder that differences do not make us "un-American" but are what make us uniquely Americans. We are a melting pot of different languages, cultures, traditions and that's the beauty of "The Arabic Quil ...more
Rameela (Star)
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
This was literally so cute and heartwarming and wholesome. Definitely would recommend this to anyone who wants to read something about a young girl who isn't afraid of her culture and appreciate diversity. I would definitely want to add this to my collection and share this with children everywhere! ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All teachers
Recommended to Ivonne by: NetGalley
I was the daughter of immigrants coming of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I remember cringing at how different my food was from my peers and how — well, alien — my parents were. So The Arabic Quilt: An Immigrant Story really hit home on that level. At the same time, as a teacher, I have many students who themselves the children of immigrants. I like to believe it’s easier now; however, the need for this book tells me it’s not really.

Kanzi, a recent immigrant from Egypt, so desperately wa
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
On her first day of school in America, Kanzi’s goal is to fit in. And she believes that means not being different. She even wishes her baba would pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for her lunch instead of her favorite – a kofta sandwich. When Mama brings her forgotten lunchbox, kids laugh at Mama’s use of the Arabic word “Habibti.” However, Kanzi’s teacher is an ally, and she reminds Kanzi of the beauty and value of being bilingual. And Kanzi finds comfort in a cherished quilt from her gra ...more
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful story about appreciating other languages and cultures.

When Kanzi moves to a new town with her Mama and Baba, she is afraid of being different as an Egyptian-american. But when one girl makes fun of her mama for speaking Arabic, Kanzi is ready to share who she is instead of hiding. She brings the quilt her teita made for her back in Egypt to school, and soon, her show and tell turns into an inclusive activity of making their own class quilt out of paper.

The story is simple and s
Dee Dee G
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the first children’s book that I’ve read about accepting different languages. I have heard so many times people say if you’re in America you need to speak English. I never understood that logic. Different languages are beautiful.
Maleeha Siddiqui
Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this! I can't wait to read this one to my daughter as she grows older to instill the love of speaking and appreciating different languages in her. We're a bilingual household and I want her to be proud of her roots, just as this wonderful book teaches us to. ...more
Michael Armstrong
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful and timely story about inclusion and acceptance told from the perspective of a young immigrant girl. Rich with culture and kid-relatable themes, TAQ is a sweet, thoughtful, and personal. A must-have for any parent interested in broadening their child's horizons. ...more
Shifa Safadi
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melowmedia210 Media210
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Book review ( Must read) “The Arabic Quilt”
The story is about a little girl who travels to a different country. ( I won’t say the name because I do not want to spoil the book). Rate
When I started reading the book I loved the plot a lot, The story has a good taste of elements. The part I love in this book is the word “ Quilt” the author is showing about her life when she came to the United States and how people who lived around her area treated her. This book must be read by everyon
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When Kanzi starts at a new school, she is worried about fitting in, but learns that you don’t have to be the same as everyone else to have a place in the class (or the world). As a teacher, I confess that I loved the supportive role the teacher played and how she facilitated learning without lecturing. This book had other highlights for me: the obviously loving, shared parenting, and that Kanzi expresses herself through poetry (making me think of the poet Sara Abou Rashed). My only little compla ...more
3.5 stars

This is a poignant, sweet, ultimately uplifting story of a girl adjusting to a new school. As if that weren't challenging enough, Kanzi and her family are Egyptian immigrants. Kanzi encounters some students who are unkind about her language and food. But her teacher connects with Kanzi through her poetry and her special blanket, handmade by her grandmother back in Egypt. Together with Kanzi's mother, they help Kanzi's class to understand their similarities and appreciate the difference
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book about coming together and celebrating differences. Kanzi has moved to the US from Egypt and on the first day at school, her mother brings her lunch that she had left at home. Some students hear Kanzi’s mother speak to her in Arabic and make fun of the sound of her language. The teacher discovers an Arabic poem that Kanzi wrote about her grandmother’s quilt, and comes up with a project idea to share the Arabic language with the students so that Kanzi feels accepted. The auth ...more
Annette Schottenfeld
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Aya Khalil’s story is an important one that will have young readers wanting to embrace other children who come from different backgrounds. Young Kanzi, an Egyptian-American, wants to fit in with her new classmates. In the end, something unique helps her realize that her heritage is part of what makes her special. Anait Semirdzhyan’s beautiful and expressive illustrations add another layer to this must read.
Rabiah Lumbard
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Khalil has penned an absolutely adorable book that is both timely and timeless. Young Kanzi is a thoughtful girl who loves to swim and write poetry. However, after moving to a new town she only wants to fit in and begins to hide her Egyptian American identity. As the pages turn, however, she comes to not only love her beautiful culture and the language of her family (Arabic), but to share it proudly. A wonderful, intergenerational story about overcoming our doubts, standing tall, making new frie ...more
Melati Lum
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful story for early readers about embracing your heritage and the value of sharing stories amongst those around you. Kanzi is an Egyptian-American and hasn't yet learnt how to balance her two cultures. She's afraid of being different and a little ashamed about the Arabic side of her heritage. With the support of her teacher, family, and friends, Kanzi learns to be proud of her background and who she is as a person. A delightful story for young readers. ...more
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
There are so many great aspects of this children's book. With its beautiful water color illustrations, it can give American (or other!) children who haven't been exposed to arabic/egyptian culture an opportunity to broaden their horizons. Besides that, I liked its focus on the fact that we can be different but the same, and that learning new languages is a good thing. ...more
Christie Angleton
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2021
So didactic and heavy-handed.
Laura Perdew
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
THE ARABIC QUILT is such an important story about celebrating and accepting differences. Khalil puts the reader in Kanzi's shoes, allowing us to experience the emotions she struggles with because she is different from her classmates but ultimately embracing and being proud of her heritage. The story also invites the reader into Kanzi's culture - I learned a lot! ...more
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a great story of self esteem, acceptance, and cultural education. It does work on so many fronts. I love it!
Panda Incognito
This book is absolutely lovely. The text and illustrations are both incredibly appealing, and the story of an Egyptian-American girl learning to accept her bilingual, multicultural identity is authentic and moving. This story is based on the author's experiences as a child, and she convincingly resolves the narrative conflict without making it saccharine or unbelievable. This book is a great choice for schools because of its classroom setting, and families with multicultural backgrounds or inter ...more
Romma ♡
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved the truth and realness behind this story and where it stems from. I do wish there were explanations throughout the book about what the words in arabic meant, but it was explained at the ending. I think this is a beautiful perspective that needs light shed on a dark situation more until people fully understand. Great lesson overral and the girls loved the quilt idea and want to make their own!
Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Arabic Quilt is a valuable story for children from early elementary through late elementary. I've read it to multiple age groups (k-2 and 3-5) and every time it held students' attention from beginning to end and led to rich, long discussion afterward. I think the many children of color I work with can definitely relate to the MC feeling out of place and maybe even ashamed of her background. It's an important book for white kids as it shows how words can hurt people from minority backgrounds. ...more
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This picture book broke my heart and mended it again. What a beautiful story. Kanzi is an Egyptian-American child who loves poetry and swimming. Like so many immigrant children and TCK’s she feels caught between two worlds. She loves the Egyptian food her parents make, and cherishes the Egyptian quilt her Teita (Grandma) made for her. But she also wants to fit in at her new (mostly white) school. She wishes her Baba would send her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and she turns down the Arabic ...more
Reem Faruqi
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Arabic Quilt is a lovely story of celebrating one's differences. When Kanzi's mother shows up at her school to deliver her lunchbox, Kanzi feels embarrassed of her mom's Arabic. However, with her teacher's help, Kanzi learns that being bilingual is special. Feeling recognized and encouraged by her teacher, Kanzi gains the courage to bring in a quilt that her Arabic-speaking aunt makes. By sharing her quilt with her class, she finds a way to not only introduce her Arab culture and heritage, b ...more
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