The Librarian of Basra

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

Written and Illustrated by:  Jeanette Winter

Pages:  32

Scholastic Reading Level:  3.4

Lexile Measure: 640L

Summary:

Alia Muhammad Baker is a librarian in Iraq when war reaches her city in 2003.  Concerned about her books, she asks the governor for help, and receives none. Then the government and soldiers take over her library. It seems as if she is the only one who cares about the books.  She finally finds someone to help, and together they save these treasures of Basra.

Marie’s Review (Mom):

This was another true story made into a great picture book.  The story was originally told in the New York Times in 2003 by reporter Shaila K. Dawan. There are always two sides to every war, and this book really made that clear to us.  The ending is not sad, but it is real. The illustrations are simple but well done to convey emotion.

I appreciated the fact that politics were completely left out. It was simply a true story from the librarian’s perspective.

Grace’s Review (4th Grade):  It was interesting but I wasn’t really into it.

Lainey’s Review (3rd Grade):  I loved it, I liked to sit and look at the pictures.

Christian Friendly:  Yes

Sensitive Readers:  Caution

This is a true story that took place during the Iraq war. There are pictures of tanks, bombs and fire, and people fleeing, but no blood and gore. The girls were antsy and whining about wanting to play outside when we started the book, but they soon fell silent and still as I read. I think Lainey at least really got an idea of what it was like for Alia. This is a great book for Elementary students, but a sensitive child in the younger grades may have trouble with it. Lainey and Grace were fine.

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