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Young readers receive cultural lessons

October 31, 2010

In the last two months, children and teen book club members have enjoyed a variety of intriguing programs at the Starkville Public Library in conjunction with Greg Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea.”
Starkville Reads donated numerous copies of the adult, young adult and children’s versions of the book to the library.
At the Young Adult Book Club, Teen Librarian Anna Ruhs came up with some novel ways to enhance the experience of the members as they read the adult version of the book.
At one meeting, they made and ate chapattis, a traditional Pakistani type of bread, along with the traditional Pakistani tea, called paiyu cha. They also decorated pictures of trucks resembling those described in the book.
The climax of their reading experience occurred on Sept. 23, when 21 members of the group met on the Mississippi State campus to share a meal before attending Mortenson’s appearance that evening at the Coliseum.
“We had a really great time reading this book and diving into the culture of Pakistan,” Ruhs said
At the Book Club for upper elementary students (fourth through sixth grades), one of most creative activities initiated by Children’s Librarian Laura Tramel saw each club member write a letter to a famous person, a friend or family member asking him or her to make a contribution to Mortenson’s Pennies for Peace Campaign to raise money for school supplies for the students in the schools which he built in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
One letter was addressed to the Queen of England and asked her to please donate at least $5: “Please help these kids see what a school really looks like. Thank you so much for doing this. Love, Shana C. Walker.”
Another was addressed to MSU President Mark Keenum and was in the shape of a heart.
Shanika R. Musser explained that she was reading “Three Cups of Tea,” which was “about a man named Greg Mortenson, who is on a mission to build schools for the children of Pakistan and Afghanistan. I really recommend it.”
She then asked if he could donate some money to Pennies for Peace and gave the website address in case he wanted more information.
Other letters were addressed to Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. Tramel created a colorful bulletin board displaying several of the letters as well as another depicting the mountain K2, which Mortenson attempted to climb before stumbling into the village of Korphe.
Many members of this book club attended Mortenson’s talk with their parents.
For the very young children who attend story time, Tramel presented a program in which she wore an outfit very similar to those worn in the two countries, read the children’s version of the book entitled “Listen to the Wind,” sang songs about the book with the children, and helped them to create colorful collages reflecting the collage art of the book.
These programs at the Starkville Public Library made it possible for the young people of the community not only to read the book but also to participate in activities which brought the book to life and enriched their knowledge of the cultures of the countries.

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