Egypt’s Kids, Reading, and ركن ثقافي

Adam and his parents stumbled on the book fair, which had blocked off a street where he usually bikes.

Although in some ways a New Egypt, a world of possibilities—including the possibilities held within books—still remains closed to many.

We entered the street blocked off for the ركن ثقافي book fair and festival, which was mostly staffed and attended by the upper and upper-middle class. There were stalls from Alef, Shorouk, Diwan, and a wealth of cheap used books. There was also face paint, caricatures, live music, and play-doh for kids. We could’ve spent the whole six hours (my seven-year-old could’ve spent days) if not for the infant. It was a lovely event that would’ve been difficult to hold three months ago.

Both older boys picked up used comic books in Arabic and French. Shorouk had a nice selection of new children’s picture books in Arabic (although they hadn’t brought along أحلام الحيوانات, which I wanted). Books appropriate for the eldest were mostly in English (he got Roald Dahl’s Danny, Champion of the World for 2LE).

But, although I enjoyed the festival, the more important members of the audience were kids like Adam (pictured above) who stumbled into the fair on the way to the Victory Field playground. And, although it solves none of Cairo’s (or the world’s) inequalities, I saw three street kids with a used comic each.

Culture Corner events will be held monthly in different locations around Cairo. Organizers thought next month might be in Zamalek; you can follow their Facebook page for updates.

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