Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 1 second

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Whose School? A friendly book review of a friend’s children’s book: مدرسة من

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 1 second

I finally got round to reading a book by my good friend Hadil Ghoneim to my child. I always knew Hadil wrote books for kids but O havenmt seen her in ages and didn’t realize she had so many published! So proud. 


 More exciting is my child’s reaction to this particular book entitled “Whose School?” Or in Arabic  مدرسة من (My main goal was to read Arabic books for my kid so she would stop preferring English text)

So the book is about a kid who goes back to school for the second year to find many parts of the school (garden, windows, desks) have been neglected and need fixing. He and his friends ask the teacher why? She says student last year were naughty and damaged things, and that the governorate are informed of the damage but so many schools and so little moeny meant the school was still waiting its turn. The main character goes to his dad and other parents and each one helps fix something: his dad, a carpenter, fixes the desks; his friend’s uncle fixed the garden, and his friend’s (who coincidentally has my daughter’s name) mom, a seamstress, makes new curtains. They all give up their weekend to go fix the  school and the headmaster thanks them. The main characters say that no thanks is needed because it is “their school”.

Love the moral of the story and the political subtelty in it, calling for collaborative grassroots fixes to common problems we face.

My daughter’s reaction was incredible, we read it twice last night, en after lights pit she made me retell it something like 10 times. She kept getting upset and needing to make sure everything got fixed in the end.

Today, we read it before bedtime, somethinf like 10 times again.

I noticed a couple of things I particularly liked. I liked that my daughter’s name was in the book and that coincidentally her mom covered her hair like me. Not all the women do in the book and it’s good to have that diversity. But speaking of diversity, there are slightly more males than female characters in the book as a whole. It might be the illustrator decision, or an oversight, or an oversensitivity of mine. 

The other tricky thing is that the book is written in Moden Standard Arabic and of course my 4 year old doesnt yet understand it. I ended up reading in my own colloquial instead, so the story sounds slightly different each time I read it. The risk there is that my personal colloquial is actually Anglo-Arab so i used some English words in it because they come easier and she understands them. As i read on i tried to insert more Arabic into it becsuse by now she understood the story and i could point at the pictures so she would learn Arabic words for objects. We usually realize she knows more words in both languages than we expect, so i dont think i should have used English at all. MY bad.

My husband enjoyed listening to my improvising as i read. For example, my girl noticed a red bag similar to hers and she pointed it out and said that’s the one her aunt gave her. I wanted to prepare my girl for some aspects of school so I showed her the kids wearing uniforms. Lots of the improv came from her, actually, not me. I love richly illistrated books that allow for that.

I am looking forward to seeing more books by Hadil (i already bought two others) until I finish them all 🙂 

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