December 20, 2018

The idea of writing a children’s book occurred to Asma Wahab when she couldn’t find a suitable one in Arabic for her three-year-old daughter.

“I couldn’t find any modern, aesthetically appealing Arabic books for children written in Fusha,” said Wahab, referring to the oldest form of Arabic. “I wanted a book that my daughter would be excited to pick up and take everywhere, just as she did with her ABC books.”

Wahab started her own publication house (Civilian Publishing) earlier this year. Her first book, “Alif Baa Taa: Learning My Arabic Alphabet,” a children’s publication, was released in June.

“A lot of our challenges came from the logistical side of things,” said Wahab, who completed the book with graphic artist Nadia Afghani, who served as the illustrator. The two are working on another book, which is scheduled to be released in March 2019.

“We wanted to make sure our books were fact-checked by a linguist. And we wanted to make sure it was better than what was on the market.”

The book can be purchased at or

Personal: Wahab, who is married, is an Orange County resident.

Last book read: “Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children” by Dr. Thomas Gordon

Quotable: “I feel like (my faith) helps shape everything I do. When I was creating this book, I wanted kids to fall in love with Arabic and be able to grasp it. For me being a non-Arabic speaker, I wanted to make sure my daughter was able to understand it. It was really challenging for me picking up the language. … So, for me, I feel like if I didn’t have a strong connection with my religion and falling in love with Arabic like I did it wouldn’t have been as important.”