Today’s Read Around the World Book Club discussion focused on the country of Oman, after we read The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye. The book is a very quiet read, focused mostly on one boy’s love for his country and unwillingness to leave it, and his relationship with his grandpa whom he also has to say goodbye to for a while. So it’s like a lovesong to the country of Oman, but there’s not really much of a plot or story to the book. So we focused on just delving into Omani culture and landmarks, things that were mentioned in the book were explored in more depth, and we even had some discussion about Oman’s geographical and political relationship to the other countries in the area. Geography is important because Oman controls several of the major ports leading from the Persian Gulf.

We watched a video about top 10 things to see in the capital city of Muscat:

The kids did a great job remembering the Arabic vocabulary introduced in the book (marhaba/hello, shukran/thank you). We learned about Omani dress and a little about the religion of Islam. We reflected a bit on what our own neighborhoods and communities are like, and some of the ways our communities have changed. Local communities and our state of California are an important topic of study in the 3rd and 4th grades in Social Studies, so I tried to tie that in with the question “What would you tell Aref about your neighborhood?” We got some great responses! The kids in our club don’t all live in Pasadena; many of them live in surrounding cities like Altadena, Monrovia and Alhambra. Parks were a major thing the kids love about their neighborhoods, including Pasadena’s Jackie Robinson Park, and also old town and downtown areas with great candy stores, ice cream shops and restaurants.

Here are my slides: (Unfortunately the formatting came out really weird when I uploaded to SlideShare, because of the font I used not being supported. Oh well.)

Our next discussion will be on Friday, March 12 at 3 pm, and we’ll be discussing Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, which is set in France. One of our members has already read the book and she highly recommends it, so get your hands on a copy as soon as you can! Here’s where you can get copies: