MEOC established the Middle East Book Awards in 1999 to recognize books for children and young adults that contribute meaningfully to understanding of the Middle East. Books that are nominated for awards are judged on the authenticity of their portrayal of a Middle Eastern subject, as well as on their plot, characterization, and appeal for the intended audience.
Should people who are living safely in their country care about the problems of people who are forced to leave their homes due to the violence of war?
Honesty- Refugees are people who are forced to leave their homes due to the violence of war. If you were traveling from your home to another country with very few belongings, how would you receive medical help if you needed it? How would you get your education? What would happen to your pets? What would happen if you ran out of money? These are a few of the things refugees have to think about.
Empathy- Read the information about Nizar Ali Badr, the illustrator for this story. How do you think he felt when he was asked to illustrate this book? Why do you think that?
Advocacy- Look at the websites listed on the page “What can you do to make a difference?” List five things you found out about refugees that is new information to you. How does your list compare to your classmates’ lists?
Action- Based on what you read on the websites, decide if there is something you and your classmates can do to help refugees. Develop a plan to make it happen.
This story demonstrates that education is not available to all women around the world. What are some of the family’s objections to Razia attending school?
What should people who are oppressed do to break free from oppression? Find some examples of people being oppressed and discuss the degree of oppression.
Support your local library by attending some of their special events. Work with the librarians to let them know events you’d like to participate in that they don’t currently offer.
There are two main characters in this story. One is the shah of the country. He is very rich and powerful, and is a Muslim by religion. The other is a poor Jewish man who starts out as a shoemaker. How does each man’s socio-economic status, occupation, and religion affect how he acts in this story?
Honesty- The two main characters in the story are of differing religions. People from these two religions don’t always get along. Why do you think that is?
Empahty- The shah uses the information he finds out about the poor man to create decrees that don’t allow the poor man to make money in his usual way. The poor man reacts with faith each time that everything will turn out fine. How would you have reacted in that situation? Do you think the poor man would have responded the same way if he knew the shah had been using their friendship to test the poor man’s faith? How would you have reacted in that situation if you had known what the shah was up to?
Advocacy- The two main characters are of two different social classes. One is the rich leader of his country, and the other is a poor man who abides by laws that change every day. How could you find out if there are laws that work against poor people? For example, early in United States history people had to be able to own land in order to vote. Such a law excluded poor people from having a say in all kinds of things. Are there other laws or school rules that are unfair to poor people? What do you think about homework that requires the use of the internet to complete? Some people have internet access at home while others would need to use computers in libraries. What if they don’t live close to a library?
Action- Talk about your classes’ rules on homework or other school rules with your teacher. If not all of the rules are in everyone’s best interest, work with your teacher to change the rules.
Do you make fun of people when you know they’ve made a mistake, like Jouha, or do you try to help them?
This book seems a stretch to be used to teach about another culture through the indicated protocol. A more appropriate use for this book might be as an introduction to one the simpleton or noodle tale, or basic Arabic counting. If you would like to write a review for this book, please contact one of the site administrator. We’d love to include your ideas!
Connecting sociology concepts to this book seems to be too far from its intended use.
Read the Author's Note at the end of the story. Did you know that the number of refugees world-wide is the highest it's been since the end of World War II and that most of the refugees are children? Think about the many hardships you would face if you had to leave your home due to a war or persecution. With so few things to call your own, would you share you only shoe as Lina and Feroza did? Why or why not?
Honesty- Many Americans don't understand how fortunate they are. Were you aware that situations such as Lina's and Feroza's were taking place around the world?
Empathy- How would you feel if you had no shoes or had to share as Lina and Feroza had to in the story? The story also stated that there was no room for girls to got o school. How would you react if you weren't allowed to go to schools while others were?
Advocacy- Look further into refugee camps in Afghanistan today. Are they similar to the one in this book? What kinds of things surprised you after you read about them?
Action- Take action based on what you find when you reserch Afghani refugee campus. For example, you can start a clothing drive to collect clothes to donate to people in need.