Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books
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Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  112 ratings  ·  50 reviews
The inspiring true story of demonstrators standing up for the love of a library, from a New York Times bestselling illustrator

In January 2011, in a moment that captured the hearts of people all over the world, thousands of Egypt's students, library workers, and demonstrators surrounded the great Library of Alexandria and joined hands, forming a human chain to protect the b...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 30th 2012 by Dial
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We were free inside the library even when we were not free outside.

Try to imagine what it is like to know about freedom ONLY from what you read in books. You would probably do just about anything to protect those books, wouldn't you?

This colorful book for children describes an incident I previously knew nothing about.

In January 2011, protesters took to the streets in Egypt to express their opposition to leader Hosni Mubarak . Fearing that their treasured library might be harmed if the demonstra...more
Jenna Scurto
Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books depicts the story of saving the Alexandria Library during the Egyptian protests of 2012. The highway across the street from the library was packed with protesters, some peaceful and some violent. The director of the library put himself in front of the library in order to protect the vulnerable glass library. At first only a few trickled in to help, but then many joined him in his crusade to save the books. The library soon had a human...more
Audience: Primary
Genre: Informational

Quote: "Then a young man broke from the marchers. He ran up the steps to Dr. Serageldin...and he took hold of the director's hand! A young girl followed. She tool Dr. Serageldin's other hand."

I liked this quote because it occurs at the apex of the story. The reader has gotten into it, and they can see the random man running from the mob to the director. I started to picture what he was going to do next, but I didn't think it was holding the directors hand. Ho...more
Simple picture about an incident during the Egyptian democracy protests in 2011. It whetted my appetite for more info. I guess as protesters were approaching the beautiful glass library in Alexandria, a human chain formed to protect it. The text is simple but could be a discussion beginner for upper elementary students about mob behavior, or symbols of freedom.
Told from the point of view of one of the protesters in modern Egypt, this is the true story of how the Alexandria Library was saved during the protests. As the crowd moved toward the library, which was built on the same ground as the ancient Library of Alexandria, the library director came outside and spoke to them. He pointed out that the library had no gates to lock and no way to protect the large doors made of glass. It was up to the people to save the treasures inside. The crowd pressed on...more
Amanda Harris
On January 25, 2011, in places such as Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt, protesters marched in public, trying to get President Hosni Mubarak to resign. This was a very intense time politically for this country and during these protests, there was fear that something would happen to the beloved Alexandria Library. The library not only offers a rich history, but it also offers it's residence the freedom of information. As the crowd neared the library, instead of damaging it, people stood holding hands,...more
Ashley Field
People in Egypt are not blessed with the freedom of speech and therefore went on a riot to show their anger towards this issue. The story is told from the point of view of one particular rioter. As they are walking down the street and setting buildings and police cars on fire, the person in the crowd grows worried that they will burn down the Alexandria Library. This library is an ancient and beautiful building that they are allowed to go and read books, learn, and use the internet. As they get...more
Tonya Peck
Audience: This book is perfect for primary readers k-3rd grade.

Appeal: With it's unique pictures and "folktale" like writing, young readers will enjoy learning about a very intense and current topic. The story starts out "Once upon a time" that will grab many children's attention, the illustrations all made out of felt is appealing as well. I think this is a great story that shows strength and passion, and in the end to be able to let the students know that this is a true story is, I think, very...more
In Egypt there is a library called the Alexandria library. The building is, according to the book, the most beautiful building in Egypt. It houses over 1 million books that include many children's books and many books that tell the history of Egypt. It's on the site of an ancient library that was intended to hold all the knowledge in the world. The ancient library burned down in ancient times.

In January of 2011 the Egyptian people rose up against the regime of Hosni Mubarak. They protested in th...more
Dorothy Schultz
TED 2360

“Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books” by Susan Roth and Karen Leggett Abouraya. This story is based on the actual event of the January 25, 2011 Egypt’s 18 day revolution to have President Hosni Mubarak resign his 30 yr. position. As the book confirms it began peacefully throughout many of Egypt’s cities but in the end more than 800 hundred people died. At the end of the book it has a reference page “Alexandria, Then and Now” after reading a...more
Little Kid Reaction: "Cool" was the single word used to describe the book. Our pre-teen was fascinated with the artwork and hung to every word of the story. She was frustrated that she could not read the protest signs (until we found the transliterations in the back).

Big Kid Reaction: Beautiful on so many levels. The collage artwork is wonderful and the story is very well told. I particularly loved all of the extras in the back - photographs of the actual events and library; the author's persona...more
Cory Mccune
Audience: Primary
Genre: History
Fiction Twin Text: _Please Bury Me in the Library_ by J. Patrick Lewis
_Hands Around the Library_ is a story about people protecting the library in Alexandria, Egypt during the protest that started in January 2011. The Egyptian people who held hands around their library to protect it from vandals knew the importance of the library. _Please Bury Me in the Library_ is a collection of poems about libraries with vivid illustrations. Both of these books could be used as...more
Christine Turner

The inspiring true story of demonstrators standing up for the love of a library, from a New York Times bestselling illustrator In January 2011, in a moment that captured the hearts of people all over the world, thousands of Egypt's students, library workers, and demonstrators surrounded the great Library of Alexandria and joined hands, forming a human chain to protect the building. They chanted "We love you, Egypt!" as they stood together for the freedom the library represented. Illustrated with...more
Fun, funky, inviting, and unassuming collage art. Great introduction to the story of Arab Spring in Egypt and a love letter to libraries; the narrative is simple enough for younger children, and the notes at the end add a little more meat for older children. Also included at the end are photographs of the library during and around the time of the protests and translations of the Egyptian words written on the protest signs in the book's illustrations. There are resources listed to learn more abou...more
I had never heard of the incident described in this picture book in which some of the Egyptian protesters during the January 2011 uprising against the country's regime protected the library of Alexandria. The library itself is a treasure, not just for the books it contains, but for its architecture, its cultural significance, and the sanctity it provides to citizens. It even contains stones containing letters or signs from 500 different alphabets. As I read the book, I was moved by the actions o...more
During the uprising in Egypt in 2011, protesters were getting violent and getting closer to the Alexandria Library. This library is one of the most beautiful buildings in Egypt and holds one million books. During the protests, the library director came out and announced that they could not protect the library. Protesters joined the director on the steps of the library and formed a human chain around it. They saved the library and its many materials from the destruction of the riots.

This is a wo...more
Ann Nekola
Audience: Primary and intermediate
Genre: Picture Book
Connection: text-to-text

This book has a connection to the book the Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano. Both books mention people standing up for a cause that is close their hearts. In the book Hands Around the Library the people are marching because they want Hosni Mubarak to resign as president of Egypt and in the Revolution of Evelyn Serrano the people are revolting because of the injustices of the Puerto Rican people in Spanish H...more
This book chronicles the events of January 2011 when Egyptians protested their lack of freedom under the current government. As with many protests, things could have escalated and property could have been damaged. The courageous director of the library stood on the steps and begged the people not to destroy the Library of Alexandria, which was a symbol of freedom of thought. One of the protesters broke from the crown and joined him on the steps of the library and soon others followed. The librar...more
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012
Narrative Nonfiction
32 pages
Recommended for grades 2+

Hands Around the Library takes readers back to the protests in Egypt in 2011 surrounding the citizens' desire for Hosni Mubarak to resign as president of Egypt. Not all the protesting was peaceful. Library director Ismail Serageldin could do no more than any other one person in protecting Bibliotheca Alexandrina, but lucky for him and the library, he wasn't alone. Young people came to stand beside the library...more
Sean Dugan-Strout
I really enjoyed this book, as it gives a chance to students to discuss and think about Egypt in its current state. Too often, I think that history tends to create stereotypes that last in us. I'm glad that there are books like this that discuss the serious things around the world, and also expresses the deep importance of libraries, as the Egyptians have expressed through there action. The paper designs of each of the pages were done very well, and were a joy to look through. This is a great bo...more
This is a simple retelling of a peaceful protest in Egypt that happened in 2011 - within the lifetime of our students. Sometimes when we share books about nonviolent protest, like the sit-in's of the 1960s or Gandhi's protests in India, kids think that this kind of demonstration belongs to history. But here's a case where people, including children, demonstrated peacefully and made a difference. And, of course, they're coming together to save a library - love that! Makes me want to learn more ab...more
Miss Pippi the Librarian
In the heat of the moment, damage and greatness can occur. A terrifying moment turns to a moment of peace when protestors band together to save their library.

Themes: freedom, revolution, standing together
Characters: children's librarian Shaimaa Saad, library director Dr. Serageldin

Artwork: Collage "international palette of papers and materials"
Author's Note: Alexandria, Then and Now -- two pages about the library; resources; words from the protest signs with English translations; A Note from Su...more
Debra Mccracken
Being a children's librarian probably influenced my initial interest in this book. Written from a child's perspective, this book tells the story of Egyptian students, library workers and demonstrators joining hands to form a human chain around the great Library of Alexandra to protect the building and what it represented in the midst of chaos, unrest and protests (in January, 2011).
The art work is so captivating; colorful, collage-style, and reminiscent of a scrapbook. This book is very well don...more
My 8 yr old son was amazed by the fact that this is a true story, and I think that says it all. We both liked the artist's use of collages to bring the story to life. The cheery colors and images make a somewhat somber subject more lighthearted. Children from 8 on up can learn everything from democracy and voting to how to peacefully protest and protect one's rights. This book can be used in many different ways to teach. We loved it!
Another library themed book. The power of information and the need to protect the freedom to access that information are always important too teach. If we can teach the young to do that, eventually we may not need to have wars, fights, and destruction in the future.
Abby Johnson
This collage-illustrated book briefly explains how Egyptian citizens protected the Alexandria Library during violent protests against the 30-year president in 2011. Although the text of the book is brief, afterwords provide additional information about the library and the 2011 protests in Egypt. This would be a nice choice for a classroom unit on world politics or political protests.
Laura Salas
This inspiring true story brings issues of social justice and activism right to a picture book audience's level. The first-person pov adds drama, and the happy ending is heartfelt and satisfying.

Excerpt: "And because together we all protected our Bibliotheca Alexandrina, once upon a time not a long time ago, the library still stands today holding all of our stories."
Sandy Brehl
A fantastic depiction of the spontaneous community effort to save the library and its contents during the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt. Susan Roth's fiber/collage images appear in many picture books, and this would pair especially well with LISTEN TO THE WIND and the LIBRARIAN OF BASRA. The back matter in each provides rich non-fiction details and resources.
This is a great book! I love the story as it is based on true events. I love it when people in their community stand up for what is important--and our library are SO IMPORTANT!!! This books reminds of my "The Librarian of Basra" By Jeanette Winters. These stories need to be told. I would say this would be a great social studies book for 3-6 th Graders.
With my daughter studying in Alexandria, across the street from this library, of course I had to read this book! It does a good job of explaining the importance of the library to the people of Egypt, and not quite as good a job of explaining the Egyptian culture and government. But the illustrations and pictures are amazing.
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