I am sharing one of our favorite books today – The Day of Ahmed’s Secret by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland, illustrated by Ted Lewin. As part of Kids Read the World – Africa, I have chosen this book from Egypt.
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The authors Florence Parry Heide and her daughter Judith Heide are well known American children’s book writers. The gorgeous paintings are by the award winning illustrator Ted Lewin who won the Arab-American award for One Green Apple by Eve Bunting. (We haven’t read that one… yet!) Ted Lewin is said to have travelled extensively while drawing for his books. So cool! Read more about Ted Lewin here.
The Day of Ahmed’s Secret is about a boy in Cairo who goes around the city on a donkey cart delivering gas cylinders to support his family. The story is narrated by the child himself… it is his thoughts and musings as he goes through his day. The narrator holds the suspense to the end as to what his secret is : the child is excited to share that he has learnt to write his name in Arabic by himself.
Ted Lewin’s gorgeous paintings and Florence and Judith Heide’s narration immediately puts the reader into another child’s shoes. We could almost hear the hustle bustle of Cairo street life come alive while reading this story. It was like being transported to the time and feeling the sweat and heat on our own skin. The narration so naturally fills your imagination with sights and sounds of what is going on.
What can Children learn from The Day of Ahmed’s Secret
We read this book in July 2016. I chose this book for my then 8 year old to talk about how children in other part of the world live. As you know, it is very important for our children to know how other children like themselves live life. It helps them understand and appreciate all that they have, if nothing else.
I was looking to introduce culture, life of children around the world and those of the underprivileged. This was a perfect example.
What my children learnt from this book:
- Street life of Cairo. We discussed the way people dressed, what the city looked like, how their life was similar or different from ours.
- How it is normal for children to support their family. I had to point out how there was no complaint in Ahmed’s tone. 😉 How working was natural and how he felt pride in able to provide for his family.
- Why children should help their families. This got us talking about how families were like little teams. We also talked about some of the ways children can help their parents.
- Gratitude. Getting good education, not working for food or your living, time to play… it is a privilege that shouldn’t be taken for granted. There are people who have so much less than you and are happy. What are you grateful for today?
Ted Lewin’s paintings are like photographs! We loved this book. This book is for children aged 6-10 years.
Where to get The Day of Ahmed’s Secret?
This book is available on Amazon in the US and UK and also on Book Depository.
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