Lifelines: Books That Bridge the Divide

When Wendy Garland and I traveled at total of 13,000 miles to meet face to face, we had already spent dozens of hours planning for our presentations at the 2018 ALA International Conference. Our first discussion was about what we had both read on the flight. Wendy had just finished Ann Braden’s The Benefits of Being and Octopus, and couldn’t stop gushing about how powerful it was. I had just finished Wishtree by Katherine Applegate. Being librarians, we connected the books to our communities and our students and our own lives. The next day, we had the chance to experience traditional Emirati culture. We toured the Jumeira Mosque and then attended a traditional Emirati luncheon. We ended our day by taking a walk through a historic section of the city called ‘Old Dubai.’ Our stomachs and minds were full when we encountered this amazing painting.

We had learned about the cultural significance of the Burqa, or facial covering, that was worn as a symbol of engagement, earlier in the day. I thought the painting showed a woman empowered and I quickly fired off the tweet above. It reminded me of the great new series Meet Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi. that I had just added to our library’s collection.

You can probably imagine how flabbergasted I felt when I received a direct message on Twitter from Ann Braden and Saadia Faruqi asking if Wendy and I would like to be interviewed for an upcoming podcast on the Lifelines Podcast that they produce. Wendy and I couldn’t believe it. Twitter had just connected us with two authors over 7,000 miles away, all because of a photo I’d taken after spending a day learning about another culture.

A couple of months later, we were recording the podcast with Ann reminiscing the incredible opportunity we had to learn from and share with dozens of librarians from the middle east. And now, today, the podcast with Ann Braden and Saadia Faruqi launched.

I love that Saadia brings in the titles that help us as librarians open the eyes of our students. As you’ll hear in the podcast, we all believe in the power of books to empower and enlighten our students. One book, in particular stood out to me from the many that Saadia mentioned. The book, This is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids Around the World, is especially powerful for elementary readers. I like that the author invites the reader into the story and presents each of the cultures as equal and valuable.

I hope that you will enjoy the podcast as much as Wendy and I did. Thank you to Ann and Saadia for inviting us to be a part. Keep up the fantastic work on this podcast!

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