If you want to read more about the Middle East, here are some books you can find at public libraries throughout Maryland. If you are working on a report for school, you can start by looking up subjects in an encyclopedia.
The librarian can also help you. Booklist is the magazine of the American Library Association, and the September 1989 issue includes short reviews of more than 40 books about Arab culture. The librarian at your school or at your local branch of the public library probably can share those reviews with you.
For more current information about the war in the Persian Gulf, use the Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature at the library to look up magazine articles about Iraq, Kuwait, Saddam Hussein and other subjects.
A good introduction to countries in the Middle East is the ''Take a Trip to'' series published by Franklin Watts. Unfortunately, Iraq isn't included in any of the titles. But Saudi Arabia, Israel and Syria are, and the full-color photographs in "Take a Trip to Saudi Arabia," by Keith Lye, (Franklin Watts, 1984, grades 2-3) show how the people in many Arab countries still farm by hand and live as nomads on the dry, rocky land. "Saudi Arabia depends on oil for most of its wealth. But about three out of every five people still work as farmers. The country has about four million sheep, two million goats, 400,000 cattle and 160,000 camels."
"Gavriel and Jemal: Two Boys of Jerusalem," by Brent Ashabranner (Dodd, Mead and Company, 1984, grades 4-6) is one of the best books available on the differences between the Arabs and the Jews. Ashabranner, whose non-fiction books have won many awards, tells the story of two different boys who live in Jerusalem. Gavriel, 12, is Jewish. Jemal, 14, is a Palestinian who lives in the Arab quarter. The black-and-white photographs show each boy going through a typical day: studying at school, walking past Israeli soldiers near a market and playing on the rooftops of the Old City. The two boys are aware of the fighting that separates the Arabs and the Jews. "But Gavriel and Jemal have grown up in homes where harmony and love are part of their daily lives," Ashabranner writes. "The disease of hate has not yet blighted these two boys of Jerusalem, and perhaps it never will."
"The Muslim World,'' by Richard Tames (Silver Burdett, 1985, grades 6-8) is part of the Dictionaries of World Religions series. Its color maps and excellent photographs help illustrate the story of Mohammed and how Islam spread in the 16th and 17th centuries. It explains religious rules like fasting and tells which foods are forbidden. It gives examples of Islamic art and scientific discoveries, and it shows how women's lives are very different in Muslim societies. In Syria and Iraq, for example, women can work in businesses and take part in politics. In Saudi Arabia, they are not even allowed to drive cars.