Barakat received her Bachelor's degree from Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah in the West Bank. In 1986, she moved to New York City, where she interned with The Nation magazine. She went on to earn master's degrees in Journalism and Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Her childhood memoir, Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood, about growing up under Israeli occupation following the 1967 Six-Day War, was published in 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and won numerous awards and honors, including the International Reading Association's Best Non Fiction for YA, 2008, the Middle East Council Best Literature Book Award, 2007, and the 2008 Arab American Book Award in the Children/ Young Adult Category.
Her book in Arabic, Al Ta' Al Marbouta Tateer, التاء المربوطة تطير THE LETTER TA ESCAPES, about a letter in the Arabic alphabet that refuses to do what it is supposed to do in a word, won the Anna Lindh Foundation award for Best Literature for Arabic children in 2011.
Her book in Arabic, Hadeyyah Lel-Hamzah,هدية للهمزة A PRESENT FOR THE LETTER HAMZAH, which she wrote and illustrated, was published by The National Library of the United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi, 2014.
- "IRA Children's and Young Adults' Book Awards". reading.org. Archived from the original on 2013-08-04.
- Middle East Council Book Award Winner page
- "2008 Book Award Winners". arabamericanmuseum.org.
- Winners of the Arab Children’s Literature Award announced, 17/01/2011, Anna Lindh Foundation
- Profile of Ibtisam Barakat at the Institute for Middle East Understanding
- An Interview with Ibtisam Barakat, Critical Mass, 14 May 2007
- Awards and honors won by Tasting the Sky by Ibtisam Barakat at Macmillan
- Ibtisam Barakat on Mahmoud Darwish at IMEU.net
- Interview by Molly Bennet, The Nation, June 4, 2007
- Ibtisam Barakat at Library of Congress Authorities, with 1 catalog records
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