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Goethe-Institut's Library Bus on Its Way to Nile Delta

If you are going to school in Egypt and the next big city is far away you may have trouble finding good books. This is why the Goethe-Institut Cairo has started its Library Bus to give kids and teens the opportunity of diving into the exciting and fantastic world of books. So far the bus visits schools and social clubs in the Nile delta, packed with books for children and youths in Arabic and Haytham Shokry, project manager and storyteller.

Books are an integral part in every child’s  growing-up and learning process and, by fostering fantasy and creativity they help leading a self-determined life. The Goethe-Institut Cairo, together with the Al-Balsam Bookstore, has chosen Arabic books, movies and other media suitable for 8 to 14 year olds. They can find picture books and comics, stories and fairy tales, DVDs and a variety of nonfiction books for during and after school. The aim is to activate the children’s excitement and lust for learning.

Haytham Shokry is always there, offering interactive readings, movie screenings appropriate to the children’s age, and puppetry plays – because reading can and should be fun, not only a necessary duty in school. That is why the kids can also borrow the books and read them at home. Haytham Shokry is the ideal cast for this job: He has been working with kids for over 13 years, gave countless readings to children in kindergartens, libraries and schools all over Egypt.  

Once a month the Goethe-Institut’s Library Bus comes to schools and other public institutions like the social clubs in Damanhur and Mansoura in the Nile delta. Other stops are due to follow. The bus is trying to reach kids and teens who do not have a well-equipped library next to their doorstep – because everybody should have the chance to become an enthusiastic reader.

Watch the trailer:

After the first few weeks more than 1,100 kids were reached – Haytham Shokry counted every single one because they all took part in a competition finding a name for the Library Bus’ mascot boy. The winner, Karem, a 13 year old from Damanhur, got a small prize for his idea of naming the mascot “Fekrawy”, an Arabic word that can be translated as “the one who thinks, who is clever and witty”. Just like a lot of the kids, not only in this part of Egypt, but in all parts of the world. If they get the chance.

The Library Bus is a project of the Goethe-Institut as part of the German-Egyptian Transformation Partnership, funded by the German Federal Foreign Office, in cooperation with the Misr Public Libraries (the Egyptian Public Libraries) in Damanhur and Mansora.

Guest post by Christopher Resch