In Bishat Amer village in northeast Egypt’s Sharqia Governorate, 34-year-old librarian Mohamed Abel-Aziz often sees dozens of children filling the entrance and hallway stairs of his house, where they read, draw, or practise handwriting.
Working at Misr Public Library in Zagazig City of Sharqia, Abel-Aziz has turned most part of the ground floor of his two-storey family house into a public library for the village kids, as he was driven by the sense of mission to help them read and learn.
“Reading feeds the mind and the soul, and nations do not rise without education. We have to do our best to promote reading among children,” Abdel-Aziz said.
The idea occurred to the man in late 2019. Now 250 to 500 children visit the home-based public library and borrow books from it twice a week for free.
“The purpose is to encourage children to read and avoid being stuck to cell phones and social media, which could be harmful,” Abdel-Aziz told Xinhua.
The small porch-like library can be reached either from the home entrance or by exterior stairs leading directly to it. On Mondays and Fridays, children will pack into the library for various learning sessions.
Sometimes the storytelling session is held in a yard opposite to the house, where one of the children stands up to summarize the story of the last book they borrowed and the lesson learned from it, while the others sit down to listen.
Magda Saeed, 10, told the group about a story of two birds that quarrel over something trivial and explained how important it is for people to reconcile and avoid fighting.
“My reading has improved since I joined the library. I also learned how to draw for the first time. Besides, we learn to write, hold theater performances and other activities here,” the girl, who wishes to become a doctor, told Xinhua.
The library has more to offer than books. It holds various activities and competitions for the kids with gifts for the winners and even takes part in contests with other libraries in the governorate.
“I come to the library to read and learn many things, such as writing and drawing. We also enjoy competitions, games and several other activities here,” said Ziyad Reda, a 13-year-old boy who dreams of becoming an engineer.
Abdel-Aziz’s family has been very supportive of the project. His brother and sister help with arranging the books while his father sometimes buys candies as gifts for the kids.
The idea has also been applauded by the villagers who send their children to the library twice a week to improve their reading and other learning skills.
“We bring our children here to help them improve their reading and writing and keep them a little away from mobile phones,” said El-Sayyid El-Shahhat, an electrical technician who was waiting outside the library for his six-year-old daughter who loves the place so much.