The Library Bus by Bahram Rahman
📚 BOOK REVIEW 📚
Title: The Library Bus
Author: Bahram Rahman
Illustrator: Gabrielle Grimard
Publisher: Pajama Press
Islamic Content: Hijabi Characters
Concerns: See the full review
Pari's mother has a library on wheels, where she does weekly trips to a village and the refugee camp to teach English to young Afghan girls. Pari is her helper today and she is looking forward to start school next year. Her mother tells her "...I want you to study hard. Never stop learning. Then you will be free."
I really do my best to stay impartial in my reviews especially anything that is politically ignited. I really cringed when I was reading this book. While at first glance this can be seen as inspirational to kids and adults alike, it really raised so many underlying questions for me.
1. Because of how much attention Malala's story has received, we now see the obsession to produce stories around the same trope. A trope where it continuously highlights girls in other countries, middle east and/or Africa, are being deprived of formal education. How many more of these books are we going to see?
2. With so many aspiring authors who work tirelessly towards their craft, continuously having their manuscripts rejected by publishers, this is the story that has been selected to be published? Is it really filling a gap in kidlit or is profit the ultimate motive?
3. Why are the girls in the village and the camp being taught English? Why are they not able to find, not even one person, willing to teach them Their own language and preserve flourish in their mother tongue Farsi or Pashto?
4. This repeated notion that education will spare a person from oppression into freedom is honestly getting tiring. If the only available picture books about Muslim lands revolve around the same theme, how does that shape the minds of the young readers about the people in question.
This is book a prime example of #ownvoices being used to publish stories with the tropes the western readers are willing to pay for.