Monday, February 7, 2011

Helping Young People Understand Contemporary Events in Egypt

Book Recommendations for Kids About Contemporary Egypt

Topping our daily news cycle are reports of the protests and unrest in Egypt. How can you help the young people in your life make sense of what is happening and dig deeper into Egyptian life and culture? Although books about ancient Egypt abound, books about contemporary Egypt are more difficult to find. Here are a few recommendations from the NCBLA's children's literature expert Barbara Scotto:

The Day of Ahmed's Secret
This picture book was written by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland and illustrated by Ted Lewin. Kirkus Reviews writes about this book, "As Ahmed delivers bottles of propane gas, he treasures a special secret he can't wait to share with his family. 'Skillfully, the authors use the secret to sustain suspense...and to highlight the significance of Ahmed's poignant joy in his accomplishment....A handsome, affectionate book.'" Published by HarperCollins in 1995.

Grandma Hekmatt Remembers: An Arab-American Family Story
Written by Ann Morris, with photographs and illustrations by Peter Linenthal, this book was published by Millbrook in 2003. Set in the United States, the grandmother, who grew up in Egypt, shares traditional activities with her grandchildren and tells them about growing up in Egypt.

We're Sailing Down the Nile
Written by Laurie Krebs and illustrated by Anne Wilson, this book tells a tale in simple verse about modern children sailing down the Nile and passing the important sites.  Published by Barefoot in 2007.

Egypt: The Land, Egypt: The Culture, and Egypt: The People
This non-fiction series was written by Arlene Moscovitch and published by Crabtree in 2008. School Library Journal recommends this series for students in grades 4 through 6 and further notes, "Each of these books touches on both ancient and modern life, but to different degrees determined by the subject matter. For example, Culture is dominated by ancient times and religious beliefs. A briefer section mentions modern religious practices, art, music, dance, and other forms of popular culture. By contrast, Land concentrates primarily on how the land is used today. It describes the importance of the Nile River in sustaining life and the growth of major cities, such as Cairo and Alexandria. It only briefly mentions some of the monuments left behind by ancient people. People is mostly devoted to the lives of modern Egyptians. It describes different lifestyles in villages, cities, and the desert, as well as the importance of Islam and Egyptian festivals. There are also sections on family customs, sports, schools, and food. Colorful photos on every page illustrate modern life and the relics of the past."