“A Princess Among Us” was written and illustrated by two teachers trying to inspire their Middle Eastern English Language Learners. They came up with a concept for book based on Her Royal Highness Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Princess Reema is the first female Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States.
According to Evelyn Manzano, “Our intention for this book was to demonstrate that we are more alike than we are different. Many people don’t take the opportunity to actually learn about other cultures. The majority of students from foreign countries face similar experiences as they integrate into the American culture. I collaborated with Julie Jay Dawson because is an education specialist, has a background in public relations, and privately is a higher commissioned artist.”
Ms. Manzano has written a series of books based on what she has seen her English Language Learning students face in the classroom. Over the years she has watched their struggles with bullying, cultural misperceptions, and learning the intricacies of acquiring a new language. Ms. Manzano, who is originally from another country herself, has empathy and can identify with the struggle of her immigrant students and their families.
Julie Jay Dawson shared a similar point of view, “Unfortunately, society focuses so much on our differences rather than how many things that we share culturally. While teaching the students it becomes evident that we are all the same in many aspects. Egocentrism prevents us from becoming friends with people in our community. Our hope is that this book, along with our future series of books will help to bridge that divide. What is unique about our book is that each page was written in both English and Arabic. The concept being that the student could invite a friend to read in English and they could read in Arabic to back them.”
“We embarked on this adventure because there were very few books targeted to teach ESL students from the Gulf States region. We wanted to give young Middle Eastern girls arriving to the United States a book that they could make a positive cultural connection. We are both really amazed at the interest it has conjured up. We have already sold out our first shipment of books. The next shipment will be in available in a few weeks.”, Manzano said.