Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday's Inspirational Book: "Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books" (a Great Read Aloud for the First Week of Library)

Teachers should remind students and parents (and maybe other educators) of the importance of libraries, as schools get into full swing. Every classroom activity can be enriched by these rich resources.  All that's needed is a library card. September is National Library Card Sign-up Month.  Other countries recognize their importance as well.  You may remember reports last year about how Egyptian youth protected the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria Library).   This extraordinary event has been translated into a beautiful, enriching, and informative picture book for children as  six but rich enough to be used with even 5th graders.  Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books (Dial) by Susan Roth and Karen Leggett Abouraya conveys a child's sense of history as it opens: "Once upon a time, not a long time ago, people in Egypt were sad and sometimes angry because…"  The voice of a young narrator successfully conveys a healthy admiration for the library's treasures. She says, "We were free inside the library even when we were not free outside." 

And so a human chain protects the library and its gems from unpredictable protesters.    Actual photographs of the library and the people — including the narrator and the library director — both of whom figure prominently in the telling — add to the real-life drama.  A brief note about the 2011 revolution, notes about Alexandria's library ancient and modern,  and more conclude this compelling book.  Hands Around the Library provides a look at a timely topic, a rich cultural heritage, and much more.  It's also a fascinating way to celebrate libraries and their treasures long beyond September.

What an incredible way to start the year out with older students, by celebrating our freedom to have libraries and so many other freedoms that others don't have.  A great topic for discussion.


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