The Adventures of Layla and Ahmed in Syria: Review & Activities
The Adventures of Layla and Ahmed is a children’s book series created by Beneath the Rubble, a non-profit educational platform working to change the narrative about places associated with war.
Through engaging storytelling and beautiful art, readers are introduced to the history and culture of these countries before conflict.
Disclosure: We received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes; however, all opinions are our own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
The Adventures of Layla and Ahmed in Syria
In their first book, The Adventures of Layla and Ahmed in Syria, we follow two children on a magical journey through their pre-war country.
The story begins with a girl, Layla and her younger brother, Ahmed finding their grandfather’s travel journal. It’s not just any grandfather or any book.
Their grandfather is Ibn Battuta, a famous 14th-century Moroccan traveler and his book, or travelogue, Rihla (Voyage) – is filled with stories, maps, and drawings of the places he had visited.
A note from Grandpa falls out of the book and sets into motion an adventure filled with discoveries about their country, themselves and each other.
Grandpa’s note tells Layla and Ahmed to follow clues he has left that will lead them to a “gift in a faraway land.”
All of the clues are written in the form of riddles and provide many interesting facts about Syrian history and culture. They are a fun and engaging part of the story.
With help from a smart camel, friendly people, and Grandpa’s book, the children decode the riddles and explore important places in Syria.
From small villages to large cities, Laila and Ahmed’s adventure includes a variety of experiences throughout Syria.
They marvel at the size of Krak Des Chevaliers, an enormous castle built by Crusaders and walk the windy alleys of a famous souq (marketplace) in Aleppo.
They eat juicy dates in the city of Palmyra, draw inspiration from the popular Queen Zenobia, visit Syria’s oldest church and the world’s oldest stone mosque.
Their adventure ends sitting on top of Mount Qasioun, overlooking the capital city of Damascus, and appreciating the gift of adventure their grandfather had given them.
In his last and best note, Grandpa wrote,
“My gift to you both is a love for this Earth and thankfulness for all that it’s worth. Your travels have served to open your minds to people and places of all different kinds.” 💗
Layla and Ahmed’s adventure is not only a journey of discovering the people and places of their country, but it is also a journey of discovering things about themselves and each other.
At the beginning of the story, we learn that Layla has always dreamed of being an adventurer and is anxious to explore the world like her grandfather. Ahmed, however, is more timid and prefers to stay close to his mama and his blanket. Throughout the story, those roles are challenged, and they are surprised by the results.
There are opportunities during each character’s journey for important discussions about pursuing your dreams, not giving up, pushing outside of your comfort zone, being open to new experiences and more.
Please visit Beneath the Rubble
- to learn about the creators of the book
- to learn more about their mission
- to get more information and history about the people and sites mentioned in this book
- to vote for where Laila and Ahmed’s next adventure should take place
- to buy the book
Purchase the book on Amazon.
PRINT our FREE learning activities packet to accompany the book.
Story activities include
- Mapping the Story Students track the children’s adventure using a map of Syria and details from the story.
- Story Nouns Students review important people, places and things in Syria and then create a noun representation of their own country.
- Rhyming Couplets Students identify rhyming words from Grandpa’s clues and add examples of their own.
Visit Brittanica Kids to learn more about Syria.
Learn more about Ibn Battuta and why he is considered the “greatest explorer of all time.”