Blogger Abby Johnson

Take a Trip Through Books

As part of our One World, Many Stories summer reading club, we took a trip to Bangladesh last month! Okay, we didn’t buy plane tickets and pack our bags and get our passports stamped, but we took a trip through books by hosting a book discussion for Mitali Perkins’s Rickshaw Girl. Here’s what we did:

We started off the afternoon with a cooking demonstration done by Miss J from my department and one of our regular patrons who was born in India. They showed the kids how to make roti, an Indian flat bread, and homemade yogurt.

Each child got a chance to feel the roti dough and to roll out and cook their own piece of roti. Then they could eat it with yogurt, tomato, and onions. Miss J also brought in a selection of spices for the kids to see and smell:

After all the kids were done with their cooking, we sat down and discussed the book. I showed them Bangladesh on a map and told them a little bit about the country. I started our book discussion by asking the kids to summarize the plot. This helps remind everyone about what happened and catches up any kids who may not have read the book. Charlesbridge has a very nice discussion guide for Rickshaw Girl (link opens a PDF), so I used that guide to ask the kids some questions about the book.

Once we had talked about the book a little bit, I passed out construction paper and colored chalk and the kids made their own version of alpanas. I showed them a few examples that I printed off the internet and then let them do their thing:

I made sure to pull any copies of the books that we had checked in so that kids who hadn’t read the book could take it if they wanted to. We also pulled a selection of books about India and Bangladesh so that interested kids could learn a little bit about their culture. I also booktalked the book for our next book discussion: Kampung Boy by Lat. I have already been getting some great feedback about this book, so I’m hopeful that we’ll have another fun library “trip” when we discuss that book.

This was a fun program and the kids really enjoyed themselves! I am lucky to have a talented chef employed in my department, but if you don’t know someone who cooks, perhaps a local restaurant would donate some munchies for the kids. Or you could make a fruit plate with fruits found in that part of the world. Or just serve American snacks. Or skip the food altogether and just learn about Bangladesh. (I tend to think of food as a draw, especially for tween-age programs, but that doesn’t mean you always have to have it!)

The bonus to traveling through library books instead of actually traveling internationally? No shots! (And it’s easier on the pocketbook, too!)

Is anyone else doing book discussions to fit with the One World, Many Stories theme? I’d love to know what great international titles you’re using!

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN


  1. Mary Voors

    Great ideas! Where will your next journey take you and the kids?

  2. Pingback: Debriefing Summer Reading | ALSC Blog

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