Title: The Day of Ahmed’s Secret
Author: Florence H. Parry & Judith Heide Gilliland
Illustrator: Ted Lewin
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers, April 25th, 1995
Ages: 6 and up
Theme/Topic: Egyptian culture and lifestyle,
Opening: Today I have a secret, and all day long my secret will be like a friend to me. Tonight I will tell it to my family, but now I have work to do in my city
Summary: Ahmed drives his donkey cart through the streets of Cairo, delivering butane gas cylinders to his father's customers. He knows everyone and has a part to play in the life of the city. He is proud to be strong enough to help his family, but most of all he is proud of his precious secret, a secret that he keeps until the end of the day. The book reveals a lot about Ahmed's life, and finally his secret - that he can write his name.
I found a couple of sites that have some good lesson ideas and plans that can be used to expand on the book. Homeschool Share has a lesson plan that includes social studies, language arts, science, math and art. Here is another lesson plan that is for early elementary kids. Basic facts about Egypt. More facts about Cairo, Egypt. Photos of Egypt.
Why I like this book:
This is a really moving tale about a boy named Ahmed who has learned how to write his name. Ahmed is a young boy who has to work to help his family out. In most third world countries poor families have to let their children work to support the family. Education is only for people with money. But education is coveted, even by the poor. They do realize that their children would profit if they learned how to read and write but circumstances does not allow them to send their children to school. I saw this time after time when I worked overseas. I loved the illustrations. They transport you to Cairo, Egypt. They are rich and vibrant as they paint the culture and day to day lifestyle of the Egyptian people in one of Egypt’s most popular cities. The book is written in the voice of Ahmed so you see the city through his eyes as he goes about his daily work routine and schedule.