Award-Winning Books Middle Eastern Literature Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books in “Hands Around The Library”


Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2017 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.

I love books that celebrate books, reading, and libraries. In fact, we had a Books about Books reading theme back in 2013, and we are doing something similar this year with Meta-Reading: Bibliophilia And All Things BooksThis nonfiction picturebook title not only has a library as its central feature, it also fits our current reading theme as we celebrate books about and from the Middle East.

Hands Around The Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books

Written by: Susan L. Roth and Karen Leggett Abouraya Collages by: Susan L. Roth
Published by: Dial Books, 2012
ISBN: 0803737475 (ISBN13: 9780803737471)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

The book begins by showing how there was great discontent among the people in Egypt. While they are described to know about “freedom” in books that they read, they were afraid to speak their minds, that is, except when they are in the safe confines of the library, where they could “whisper” about things that matter to them.

However, these whisperings soon became angry, loud voices that took to the streets waving placards, marching for the elusive ‘freedom.’  The voice of the story indicated that he was part of this group of people. However, he grew increasingly apprehensive that the people’s escalating fury and outrage might lead them to march to the library and burn the treasured books down.

It does happen sometimes that when crowds of people are incited into such frenzied anger, they are able to do things they would not ordinarily do through deindividuation. Hence, the library director, Dr. Ismail Serageldin called out to the crowd:

“The doors are all glass. There is nothing that prevents anybody from destroying this building with all its treasures, except the will of the people.”

It was this statement, alongside a few brave souls who came up and held hands with the good director to stand and protect the library – that saved the treasures found within.

I especially like how there is such extensive back matter explaining the background of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, as well as actual pictures of the library and those who are involved in ensuring its safety and protection. For teachers who wish to make use of this in the classroom, here is a downloadable PDF file that you can check out. I also found this lovely youtube link that showcases the new things that are ongoing at the library. Enjoy!

2 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books in “Hands Around The Library”

  1. I’m a sucker for books about libraries and especially real ones. I enjoyed this book and am so impressed that they stood up, stood together to save a beloved part of their culture and community.


  2. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Favourite Titles Across GatheringBooks’ 2017 Reading Themes – Gathering Books

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