Books International Middle Eastern Literature Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Ibn Battuta’s Amazing Travels Around the World


Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2017 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.

Last week, I shared the picturebook biography (PBB) of an eminent Persian scholar. This time, I am happy to feature a PBB of a world traveler from Morocco.

The Amazing Travels of Ibn Battuta

Written by: Fatima Sharafeddine Pictures by: Intelaq Mohammed Ali
Published by: Groundwood Books House of Anansi Press, 2010.
ISBN: 1554984807 (ISBN13: 9781554984800)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

A week ago, it was all about Ibn Sina’s life for our Nonfiction Wednesday post. This time around, I am featuring the wondrous travels of Ibn Battuta from Morocco, who had gone on to write manuscripts about his travels, famously referred to as the Rihla (Journey) of Ibn Battuta.

He left home when he was 21 years old, on a holy pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city. While he became frequently sick during his journey, he persevered, as he “went through Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Syria.” Little did he know that it would be the beginning of a 29-year travel that would lead him throughout the Islamic world, Europe, Africa, and China. Going from one place to another during the 14th century is not only hazardous, it also took a great deal of time as he went by caravan or by sea. He also traveled astride a donkey and walked through deserts – as his journey entailed fighting off hyenas and the constant fear of pirates hanging over him, as he went through sea voyages.

What truly surprised me, though, was how he would introduce himself to the governors and religious leaders of each city he visited. He was welcomed warmly and would even be given food and money as he went onto his next journey. It seems like a world so different from the one we have at the moment, with determinedly-closed borders, the constant paranoia and fear of the foreign, the different, the outsider.

To say that Ibn Battuta was an intrepid explorer would not be doing him justice. I admit to liking this more than Ibn Sina, and I do look forward to reading more of Fatima’s picture book biographies coming from the Arabic world.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

8 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Ibn Battuta’s Amazing Travels Around the World

  1. lindabaie

    This does sound fascinating, Myra. We don’t learn of these important people in America very much, unless we’re looking for them. And my library has the book! Twenty-nine years of travel is indeed a long time. Thanks for sharing this one, too!


  2. annettepimentel

    When our family lived in Bosnia, we homeschooled our kids and they studied Ibn Battuta. How I would have loved having this book!


  3. Michele

    Those illustrations are just gorgeous! This is a new name for me, thanks for sharing!


  4. This is entirely a new one to me, as well, thank you for featuring it! As an insatiably curious traveller, I feel like Ibn Battuta would definitely be a bit of a kindred spirit. 🙂


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