2 class periods of 45 minutes each
Seven Daughters and Seven Sons is the retelling of a traditional Arabic tale in which a young woman disguises herself as a man and opens up a shop in a distant city in order to help her impoverished family. Her disguise causes her many complications but she eventually succeeds in redeeming the family fortunes and finding her true love. Students will learn aspects of Middle East culture and geography through reading the book.
Seven Daughters and Seven Sons; atlas; dictionary; blank map of the Middle East (Egypt to Iraq)
This novel is based on an Iraqi folktale that has been part of their oral tradition since the eleventh century. The book is written in the first person narrative of the two main characters, Buran and Mahmud. 'Seven Daughters' reveals timeless isssues in a Middle East context.
1. Define vocabulary from 'Seven Daughters and Seven Sons' that relate the the Middle East. 2. Map locations described in the book on map of the Middle East. 3. Describe cultural features of the Middle East. 4. Explain how resources are culturally determined.
Have students list stories where the main character switches gender identity (Yentl, Tootsi, Ms. Doubtfire, etc.) Ask why these characters switch identity. Explain that Seven Daughters and Seven Sons is another identity story set in the Middle East. Through reading the book they will learn much about the Middle East. Have them answer the questions and do the activities described in the following steps and discuss their answers in class.
The following National Geographic link may help you. Click on Asia, then on individual countries (Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Cyprus) You may want to print out the map and copy for the members of the class.
Define the following list of vocabulary found in 'Seven Daughters.'
The following questions are answered in 'Seven Daughters' in regards to religion:
What's in a name? Read p. 50 as Buran chooses a new name. Following the pattern in the book, what would your last name be in Arabic?
The following questions are answered in 'Seven Daughters' in regards to cultural traits:
Read the conversation between Buran (Nasir) and Jihha on pages 66-71 and the conversation on pages 90-94. Answer the following questions.
How did Buran's opening statement come true? 'What we imagine to be a blessing can actually be a curse, and what we suppose to be a curse may blossom into a blessing.'
Students may learn about the history of backgammon or chess and play the game
Cohen, Barbara, Seven Daughters and Seven Sons (Beech Tree Books, 1982) Xpeditions Atlas