Eulogy of Abd Al-Tawab Youssef

 

Eulogy of Abd Al-Tawab Youssef

            Children’s Literature lost a pioneer who witnessed the transformation of many generations of Arab children during this ever-changing era. Al-Multaqa Magazines mourns this prominent figure as a pioneer, a teacher, and an educator. Many publishing houses knew him to be a committed writer, an advocator of his nation’s heritage, and a passionate writer who adored children.

            The departed had actively participated in ACBPF’s events to enrich modern children’s literature. Though he always smiled, a look of concern and sadness was always present. He sought to enable new generations. Al-Multaqa is proud to present this essay honoring his life by Mr. Abdo Al-Zarra’, a writer, a poet, a novelist, and the chief editor of Qatr Al-Nada Magazines for children in Egypt.

Editor

 

Abd Al-Tawab Youssef

The Leading Arab Writer of Children’s Literature

Abdo Al-Zarra’

            The great Egyptian writer Abd Al-Tawab Youssef is considered the leading Arab children’s writer and the most published one. He wrote stories, plays, research papers, book reviews, and scripts for radio series and programs. He also translated many foreign children’s books. He died on (September 28th/ 2015), at the age of eighty seven, leaving us a tremendous and diverse collection of literary works.

            He was granted many awards in children’s literature from Egypt and the Arab world. He received the State Award for Children’s Literature in 1975, the Medal of Science and Art, the State Award for Children’s Literature in 1981, UNESCO International Literacy Prize in 1975, the Gold Medal from Arab States Broadcasting Union, and the Best Children’s Writer in 1998, in addition to twelve other Arab and international awards.

            Abd Al-Tawab Youssef wrote over (620) children’s books in different fields. (595) books were published in Egypt, while the remaining (125) were published in other Arab countries. He also wrote (40) books for adults. He worked with all Egyptian Publishing houses, and the majority of Arab ones. His books were re-printed in many editions. Among his most important works are:

  • “Let’s Read” series, the Arab House of Books, Egypt
  • “Tales of an Egyptian Man in America”, Islamic Books Series”, “Stories for Young Children”, “Arabian Tales”, The House of the People
  • “Our Offspring” series, “Time is Money” series, “The Green Library” series (includes over 50 titles), “Once upon a Time” series, “My Library” series, “Conquests of the Twenty First Century” series, Al-Ma’aref House
  • “International Tales” series, General Egyptian Book Organization
  • “Stories of the Prophets for Children”, Egyptian Lebanese Book Publishing House
  • In addition to many other important series like “Muhammad, the Last Prophet”, “Businessmen”, “Small Encyclopedia for Educators” series, “How to Draw” series, “A Song and a Story” series, “Our Beautiful Language” series (Laughing Letters / Grammatical Tales / Punctuations / etc.), “Family Tales”, etc..

 

            His most famous work is “The Scarecrow” (1970). It was added to the sixth graders’ curriculum in Egyptian national schools. /3/ million copies were printed for distribution in schools. While /7/ million copies were printed from his “The Life of Muhammad in 20 Stories”, in which Youssef makes creatures and objects narrate the story of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings be upon him). Jordanian Critic, Muwafaq Meqdadi says:

When Abd Al-Tawab Youssef wrote the story of Prophet Muhammad (May peace and blessings be upon him), “Sahih Al-Bukhari” and “Sahih Muslim” [authentic Hadith books] were his companions along with biography books, never adding anything from his imagination. All he did was to rearrange events.

Abd Al-Tawab Youssef did not only write stories, plays, and radio scripts, but he published a number of books and research papers of literary criticism. Those include:

“A Thousand Nights and the Tales of Childhood”, “Arab Children and Folktales”, “Children’s Poetry”, “Writing Folktales for Children”, “Are Folktales Good for Children?”, and many others.

Abd Al-Tawab Youssef was a storywriter. However, he was a strong advocator Egyptian of and Arab poets who write for children. He wrote books about some of them like Ahmad Shawqi, Muhammad Al-Harawi, and Ibrahim Al-Arab.

In his book, “Children’s Literature” there is an essay entitled “Arab Literature from Outside Egypt” in which Youssef says:

     Egyptian children read in Arabic. No doubt, Arabic literature published outside Egypt is an important and enriching influent upon our Egyptian literature. Various Arabic Magazines enter Egypt like Majed from Emirates, Bassem from Saudi Arabia, Ahmad from Lebanon, and Majallati from Iraq, etc… They provide our children with new colors of literature, especially poetry. There are creative poets like Suleiman Al-Eissa from Syria, Farouq Salloum from Iraq, Muhammad Al-Zaher from Jordan, Ali Al-Sharqawi from Bahrain, and Muhammad Siyam from Kuwait. They have written wonderful poems for our children.

     In fact, children’s prose literature has advanced a lot, too. We hear of established writers like Zachariah Tamer, Adel Abu Shanab, Sharif Al-Ras, Abd Al-Razaq Al-Matlabi, and Abd Al-Sattar Nasser. In addition, a vast number of translators localized some modern and classic international children’s works.

            May Allah have mercy upon Abd Al-Tawab Youssef’s soul! Indeed, he has enriched Arab libraries with his storytelling, theatrical, and critical creations for children. He was, indeed, an active participant in many Egyptian and Pan-Arab conferences and forums dedicated to Children’s literature and culture.

 

Bibliography:

  • A group of researchers. (1998). Research paper Internet and Cultural Input of Egyptian Children in 21st Century. (1999). Cairo: Books Advancement Center, Egyptian Book Administration.
  • Al-Dhab’, Mahmoud. (2009). Children’s Literature between Heritage and Information Technology. Cairo: Egyptian Lebanese Publishing House
  • Meqdadi, Muwafaq Riyadh. (2012). Narrative Structures in Modern Arabic Children’s Literature. Kuwait: ‘Alam Al-Ma’refah.
  • Youssef, Abd Al-Tawab. (1995). Of Children’s Literature. Cairo: Maktabat Al-Shabab, General Organization of Cultural Palaces
  • Youssef, Abd Al-Tawab. (1998). Children and Poetry... Poems for Children by Egyptian Poet Ibrahim Al-Arab. Cairo: General Egyptian Book Organization