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Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  292 ratings  ·  108 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
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published August 30th 2012 by Dial Books
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3.95  · 
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 ·  292 ratings  ·  108 reviews

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Apr 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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?

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 demonstrations turned violent, residents of Alexandria held hands and formed a circle around the
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Being a librarian, of course I was inspired by this book! I didn't know the details of how the Alexandria Library was saved until I read this book. Made me proud to be a librarian! I liked the photos of the real events at the end, and the extra information on the library. I would like to think that people everywhere would appreciate and protect their libraries. Recommended, especially for library lovers!
Kristen Herzog
May 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Hands Around the Library by Karen Leggett Abouraya and Susan L Roth is an amazing true story about how protesters helped save their library. January 25, 2011 Egyptians started their protest towards the President, Hosni Mubarak. After his thirty year rule the people finally demanded that he resign. In their efforts to get him to resign the streets of Alexandria became a scary mob which ended with more than 800 people dying. This protest took place in the streets surrounding the modern Alexandria ...more
Jenna Scurto
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: info-bios
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
Dina Al-Mahdy
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Karen Leggett is a talented children's book author and an amazing friend of mine. I worked on the Arabic translation of her book "Hands Around the Library"; an inspiring true story about the demonstrators who held hands to protect the Bibliotheca Alexandrina during the Egyptian Revolution. The impressive collage was done by the talented artist and friend Susan L. Roth. Unfolding many morals and ethics, the book captures the hearts of the young & adults. Karen & Susan, it's such an honor ...more
"Hands Around The Library" tells an inspiring true story of demonstrators standing up for the love of a library.
In January 2011, during the unrest on a Friday when thousands were demonstrating for better lives, this moment captured the hearts of people all over the world. When there was a threat of vandalism, 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
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: international
An inspiring true story written by a New York bestselling illustrator Susan L. Roth and author Karen Leggett Abouraya.

In 2002, a new library opened in Alexandria, Egypt that offered more than just books for the Egyptian people. All around the outside of the building are four thousand blocks of granite from a town called Aswan, in the south of Egypt. Each stone is carved with a letter or a sign from five hundred different alphabets. Not only was this a library, but it was a place of sanctuary wh
Michelle Pegram
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book tells one of the many stories of the Egyptian revolution that began in January of 2011. In a childlike voice, the narrator shares the exhilaration and hope of a young revolutionary who marched in Alexandria when the movement reached that great city. Along with the excitement, however, there was fear. The marches had, at times, developed into riots that led to destruction. The narrator is worried that their beautiful library in Alexandria would be damaged. As the marchers approach, the ...more
Salina King
Dec 09, 2014 added it
Shelves: t-l-307
Hands Around the Library is a book based in 2011 in Egypt when protesters wanted to destroy the Alexandra Library. This library holds a large amount of historical information and the loss of that information would be devastating. This book uses wonderful illustrations to show a young reader what happened during that time. This book is a great way to introduce young readers not only a different culture but also to the importance of history and protecting those historical documents. I would use th ...more
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the true story of a spontaneous moment during Egypt's 2011 revolution to protect the Library of Alexandria. Those of you who are up on your history may know that the Library of Alexandria burned at least three times during the ancient world; the author, who was part of the protests, records how she was afraid that the library would burn again. However, after a heartfelt plea from the library's director, the protestors formed a human chain around the library, protecting it from damage and ...more
Mi Ngo
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Hands around the library told a story of how people in Egypt were able to protect the library they cherish from angry rioters by everyone holding hands surrounding it. This was in 2011, a time where Egyptians wanted their voice to be heard and freedom for the people. This story showed that if people are taught to love, then others can see compassion and be inspired to love as well.

I continue to love the mixed media collages. The people are adorable. The story overall was nice to read about beca
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt's Treasured Books" by Susan L. Roth and Karen Leggett Abouraya (2012) is a picture book that I had not read prior to this moment. It is based on the true story of how the contemporary Alexandria Library in Alexandria, Egypt, was saved from ruin in 2011 when Egyptian protestors, demanding Hosni Mubarak's resignation, turned violent. Young citizens, for whom the library provided a safe place to ", chat, make friends, dream about the future, think ...more
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book offers a short but detailed story of Alexandria, Egypt’s citizens protected the city library from the mob a protesters in 2011. The illustrations are spectacular. They are formed by paper collages of multiple compositions including furry-looking scraps for the hair of the people. I feel like this use of collages is representative of the Alexandria Library, an assembled collection of all kinds of paper that forms a library for the people. The story emphasizes the struggle the citizens o ...more
Stephanie Watson
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Very simple story with collage-style illustrations. Unfortunately, I didn't learn much about the culture of either ancient or modern Alexandria, and the drama of the moment this story told was kind of muted.
Haley Walker
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: t-l-307
This book describes the story of protestors in Egypt fighting for freed from the perspective of a young girl. The story takes place in a sacred library the young girl is trying to preserve. I would use this in 2nd-8th grade classes, and it was published in 2011.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile
Truly inspiring! I'd love to visit this wonderful library.
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great non-fiction read aloud for National Library Week
Jessica Riben
Title: Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books
Author: Susan L. Roth and Ksren Leggett Abouraya
Illustrator: Susan L. Roth
Genre: Orbis Pictus or Robert F, Sibert winner or Honor book
Theme(s): Freedom, Libraries, Religion, Families
Opening line/sentence: Once upon a time, not a long time ago, many people in Egypt were sad and sometimes angry, because they were not free to speak, or vote as they wished, or gather in groups.
Brief Book Summary: This is a book about people in Egyp
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read for class. A historical event that I knew nothing about.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Egyptian people wanted to protect the library because that is where they have their books and felt free. They were not free to speak as they wanted to, so the library was their safe zone.
Teachable points: We have many privaleges living in the U.S., dont take things for granted, books are important, save our libraries.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This illustrations in this book are amazing collages. I really enjoyed looking closely at the details in the collage like all of the different materials that were used. I didn't know about this event in history, but I'm glad I learned about it through this book. I love the fact that thousands of Egypt's students, library workers, and others gathered together to physically protect the library they loved. This book tells the story of eighteen days in 2011 where the people of Egypt took a stand for ...more
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-lit
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
Apr 23, 2014 added it
Shelves: multicultural
Picture book #4 Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books

1. This story is about when people in Alexandrina, Egypt surrounded a library by holding hands and protesting against the burning of their beloved library. To those who went to the library, they knew it was a safe place to talk about anything, learn new things, and communicate with people from other countries. In January of 2011 there were revolutions and protests to get the president of Egypt to resign after holding tha
Amanda Harris
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-for-blog
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
Haley Van
Nonfiction (2012)
This picture book discusses the importance of standing up and uniting together for what is right. It also places an immense value on libraries and the book and stories they hold. It also discusses the importance of making your voice heard, without hurting others. In this classroom, this book can be used to teach students about protests, and how to do them in a peaceful manner.
Gabrielle Blockton
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Date: November 4th, 2014

Author: Susan L. Roth and Karen Leggett Abouraya; Collages by Susan L. Roth

Title: Hands Around the Library

Plot: This picture-book is based on true events. A young crowd of students and young children stand outside of the Alexandria Library in Egypt to protect vandals from burning down the city's important gem.

Setting: Egypt, Alexandria Library

Characters: Dr. Ismail Serageldin; Author; Various characters

Point-of-View: First-Person

Theme: Knowledge, Freedom, Protesting,
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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Non Fiction 1 1 Apr 26, 2016 09:07PM  

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Karen Leggett Abouraya is a veteran print and broadcast journalist (WMAL Radio in Washington, D.C.) who has reviewed children’s books for The New York Times, Children’s Literature, Washington Parent, and more. She is a past president and active member of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, D.C. Karen, her Egyptian husband and their two children have traveled frequently to Egypt, so it is not ...more