Maryland at the National Book Festival

Discover Great Places Through Reading

The 2020 National Book Festival is virtual. You can find everything regarding Maryland at the National Book Festival on this page. Thank you for visiting!

Discover great places through reading with Great Reads! Every year, a list of books representing the literary heritage of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands is distributed by the Library of Congress’s Center for the Book during the National Book Festival.

Maryland’s Great Reads selection for 2020 is Farah Rocks Fifth Grade by local author Susan Muaddi Darraj. Learn more about Farah and the author below!

Great Reads from Great Places: Susan Muaddi Darraj's FARAH ROCKS FIFTH GRADE

“When I was younger, books were my best friends, even though I never quite saw a character that looked like me. Writing FARAH ROCKS was exciting because she is a character who represents my community. Even more so, to be able to represent my state of Maryland is a true honor and a joy!” — Susan Muaddi Darraj

  • About the Book

    Farah and her best friend, Allie Liu, are getting excited to turn in their applications to the Magnet Academy, where they both hope to attend sixth grade. But when new girl Dana Denver shows up, Farah’s world is turned upside down. As Dana starts bullying Farah’s little brother, Samir, Farah begins to second-guess her choice to leave him behind at Harbortown Elementary/Middle School. Determined to handle it on her own, Farah comes up with a plan–a plan that involves lying to those closest to her. Will her lies catch up with her, or can Farah find a way to defeat the bully and rock fifth grade?

  • About the Author

    Susan Muaddi Darraj’s short story collection, A Curious Land: Stories from Home, was named the winner of the AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, judged by Jaime Manrique.   It also won the 2016 Arab American Book Award, a 2016 American Book Award, and was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. Her previous short story collection, The Inheritance of Exile, was published in 2007 by University of Notre Dame Press.

    In 2018, she was named a Ford Fellow by USA Artists. Susan also is a two-time recipient of an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. She has also been awarded a Ruby’s Artist Grant from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation.

    In 2019, she launched the viral #TweetYourThobe social media campaign to promote Palestinian culture. Later that year, she was named winner of the Rose Nader Award, by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), an award given by the Nader family to a person who “demonstrates an unwavering dedication and commitment to values of equality and justice.”

    In January 2020, Capstone Books launched her debut children’s chapter book series, Farah Rocks, about a smart, brave Palestinian American girl named Farah Hajjar.

Maryland Humanities is a statewide, educational nonprofit organization that creates and supports educational experiences in the humanities that inspire all Marylanders to embrace lifelong learning, exchange ideas openly, and enrich their communities.
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