The Institute for Middle East Understanding offers journalists and editors quick access to information about Palestine and the Palestinians, as well as expert sources — both in the U.S. and in the Middle East. Read our Background Briefings. Contact us for story assistance. Sign up for e-briefings.
Institute for Middle East UnderstandingPalestinian Americans
Donate to IMEU
News & Analysis
From the Media
Life & Culture
Customs & Traditions
Performing Arts
Visual Arts
Palestine in Photos
Art & Culture
Business & Economy
Daily Life
Palestinian Americans
Background Briefings
Documents & Reports
Development & Economy
Historical Documents
Human Rights
Politics & Democracy
Media Inquiries
About IMEU

Get E-mail News
Journalists & Editors: Sign up for e-mail briefings here.
Follow the IMEU on Twitter


On civil disobedience
Neve Gordon, The Palestine Chronicle

Gaza families demand answers
Ma'an News

Goldstone and the 'peace process'
George Giacaman,

Advanced SearchSend/E-mail This PageShare/Save This PagePrint This PageAdvanced SearchAccess RSS Feed
Home > Palestinian Americans
Ibtisam Barakat: Writer, poet and educator

To interview Ibtisam Barakat contact the IMEU at 718-514-9662 or

Palestinian-American author Ibtisam Barakat
Palestinian-American author Ibtisam Barakat
Born in Beit Hanina, near Jerusalem, Ibtisam Barakat's (Pronunciation) life was turned upside down at age three, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem following the 1967 war. "I will never know what my life would have been like without having grown up under Israeli occupation," says writer, poet and educator Barakat. "This influenced me in every way. And it made me sensitive to all the issues of injustice that exist in the world."

Growing up with war and occupation is the focus of Barakat's memoir, Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood, released in 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. In 2007, Booklist named it one of the top ten biographies for youth and it was listed as an American Library Association Notable, and in 2008 it won the International Reading Association's Best Non-Fiction Book Award for Children and Young Adults. "At least 200,000 Palestinians fled their homes in the Six Day War," she says. "My family and I were among them. So I wanted to write this story for the children of that night, including the young girl I was, and for children everywhere, especially those denied a childhood."

After earning her bachelor's degree from Birzeit University in the West Bank, Barakat moved to New York in 1986, where she interned with The Nation. Later, she earned Masters in Journalism and Human Development and Family Studies, both from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Beginning at a young age, Barakat has used writing for communicating, as well as for self-understanding. "My writing is a clear and spacious window," she says. "I know whether it's morning, or it's night, whether it's a rainy day or a summer day, and whether it's a season of freedom outside and inside or a season of fear, all through what I see reflected in my writing."

Barakat taught language ethics at Stephens College in 2002, and her work has been published by Simon and Schuster, Pocket Books, Random House, Scholastic, Weekly Reader Corporation, and elsewhere. She is the founder of the Write Your Life seminars, "where people take the time to explore their life stories, and to turn various elements into literature and art -- poems, letters, essays, paintings, songs, plays, short stories, or humor pieces.

"I find it especially important to encourage people from under-privileged groups to find their voices and speak up," Barakat explains. "Given the harsh climate of humanity at this time, it is the responsibility and privilege of all of us to contribute our stories toward the composition of a book of life and history that represents all."

Barakat is working on her second book.

Tasting the Sky is available from Macmillan and

Advanced SearchSend/E-mail This PageShare/Save This PagePrint This PageAdvanced SearchAccess RSS Feed

Home > Palestinian Americans > Ibtisam Barakat: Writer, poet and educator

All content ©2006-2013 Institute for Middle East Understanding

site designed by