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Culture: Beliefs and Values #1: How Books Are Valued by Cultures Around the World

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Lesson Overview:

Based on the work of Margriet Ruurs, this is a tremendously powerful lesson for helping children understand the importance of community or school libraries.  Quite often children in developed countries take for granted the many privileges they enjoy.  In this lesson, they get a glimpse of the countless ways communities all over the world receive library books and the dedicated volunteers and librarians who deliver them.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:

3-5

Objective:

To understand that books are valued in cultures around the world.

AASL 2.3.2:  Consider diverse and global perspectives in drawing conclusions.

AASL 4.4.4:  Interpret new information based on cultural and social context.

Suggested Time:

35-45 minutes

Success Criteria:

Students will identify four different countries and the ways library books are brought to school children in those countries/cultures.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Ask which of the children have books at home.  Ask which of the children have libraries in their home country(ies).  Ask why books are so prevalent in homes around the world.  Emphasize that most cultures value education and believe that having access to books is a great way to help children learn and enable them to have fun.

2. Main:

Summarize or paraphrase relevant sections of the text.  The book is too long to read it in its entirety, so I usually choose a few different sections.  The kids respond particularly well to:

  • Australia – Trucks (a familiar transport vehicle).
  • Finland – Boats (also familiar to most students).
  • Thailand – Elephant! Describe the rural northern Thailand terrain and let them guess . . . sometimes they can!
  • Kenya – Camel. They love looking at this picture.  Ask if they think you, as a librarian, could organize the mules, camels, or elephants!

I like to start with highlights from the foreword, because in it the author explains that she wondered how kids around the world got their books.  Point out that she had a question, did her own personal inquiry, kept notes, and eventually turned that work into a book.  This is a fabulous example of a grown-up doing inquiry work.  Our students learn through inquiry, and this shows how powerful and effective personal inquiry can be!

Be sure to use a globe so that the children know where in the world the examples come from.

3. Conclusion:

Reiterate that books are brought to kids around the world because people believe that having access to books is important for children.

additional Resources:
  1. My Librarian is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World by Margriet Ruurs.
  2. Student Handout (see attached.)
  3. Map or globe
Notes:
Key Terms:

Libraries, Traveling Libraries, Librarians, Camels

Recommended Texts:
  1. My Librarian is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children Around the World by Margriet Ruurs.
student handout:

Student Handout, My Librarian is a Camel

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