The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter
Weight: 12 oz
Method of Disposal: Giving to Sarah G.A.
I love this book. It is a book about a library in Basra and the people who love it. War creeps into the city and the people and books are in danger. Everyone flees the library except for the librarian, Alia. She gets people to help her move all of the books into her friend’s restaurant next door. Soon, the library will burn down. In a quiet moment, she gets a truck and moves 30,000 books out of the restaurant and into her home and the homes of her friends. She keeps the books safe and dreams of peace.
In a note from the author we are told about the real Alia who managed to save 70 percent of her library’s books before it was burnt down.
This is a children’s book about war and while I would like to protect kids from the atrocities adults commit, it is impossible. Children are hearing about the wars we have been fighting, they are seeing it on television, they are watching parents and siblings leave and sometimes not come back, they are playing video games, and repeating information they overhear to their peers at the playground. They know about war. The children growing up in the United States now only know a world in which U.S. soldiers are fighting overseas. They do not know war like the Iraqis know war. They cannot imagine what it is like in Afghanistan for the people who live there. This book, and others like it, offer the children a unique perspective they may not find in many other places. This book gently describes the fear, the danger, the humanity, the desperation involved in war. It is very very gentle. The child is also able to relate to the people of Iraq, instead of always being asked to other them.
If you are curious about children’s books that describe war, you might also check into Alice Walker’s Why War is Never a Good Idea. This one is less gentle. The images really show you something about war, and it is not something anyone wants to see. It will also be more controversial, I am sure. There are many arguments that people will make for what does make war a necessary, though deplorable thing. With both books, adults should read them first and think about how they will discuss them with children before they sit down and do it. I know some people are also upset with the Librarian book, but it is truly ridiculous. It is a great story. It presents a truth. An important truth and an incredible, real woman. It does not disrespect America, our soldiers, or Americans, as has been suggested.
I have decided to give this book to my dearest Librarian, Sarah, because I know she will love it too. She has a child on the way, but I am hoping that by the time her kid is old enough to read this book it will be unnecessary. I chose this book to get rid of because I went to my local library the other day and “renewed” my library card. I use parenthesis because I got my card the first week of my first year of college and never used it for years. I never even went back to the library. Libraries terrify me. I cannot tell you why. They should be my heaven on earth and probably will be eventually. Free books for days. Now, I get shy, anxious, and nervous. My friends, Tracy and Lynne, went with me the other day. I got my library card and three books. The Shock Doctrine, a book on rats, and another book on animal emotions. I chose books quickly because the library was about to close, but I am pretty excited to get started on all of them. You get a good, long time too. Three weeks. Who knew?