Title: The Librarian of Basra
Author: Jeanette Winter
Illustrator: Jeanette Winter
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books; January 1, 2005
Suitable for: 4 and up
Themes/Topics: Middle East/ Iraq, Library, Bravery, Non-fiction,
“In the Koran, the first thing God said to Muhammad was ‘Read.’”
Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. For fourteen years, her library has been a meeting place for those who love books. Until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears that the library--along with the thirty thousand books within it--will be destroyed forever.
In a war-stricken country where civilians--especially women--have little power, this true story about a librarian's struggle to save her community's priceless collection of books reminds us all how, throughout the world, the love of literature and the respect for knowledge know no boundaries.
Links to resources:
Find a study guide at teachable moments. 4th grade lesson plan. Learning to Give has another great lesson plan with cross curricular activities.
Why I like this book:
I love books that show true bravery and fore sight of present day women. This is a wonderful book for girls (and boys) to read and feel inspired to stand up and act for what they believe is right and for the good the community even if their action is something small. The fact that this is a true story makes it even more touching. The author does not use a bunch of words to describe what is going on. She does a great job relaying the facts about what is happening with out making it too scary or gory (as war can be very gory) We see the what and why the librarian is worried and why and how she rescues her books. The illustrations are simple but relay the message of the story perfectly. Anyone who loves and respects books will love reading this story about a brave woman who courageously protected 30,000 books, some irreplaceable, from a war’s destructive grip.