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You can help send books to Ethiopia by reading

In Ethiopia, a country of over 70 million people, there is only one public library. This is something so hard for me to comprehend as I watch my one-year-old twin daughters flip through the dozen library board books scattered across our floor. Adopted from Addis Ababa, they were once two of the estimated 4.8 million orphans in Ethiopia.

This summer you have the opportunity to give the wonder and delight of books to some of the 33 million Ethiopian children. As part of its Summer Reading Program, the Marysville Library will be supporting the sponsorship for the development of an interactive, working library with books in both English and Ethiopian languages. We will kick off the festivities on Saturday, June 28, at 11 a.m., with a program presented by Julie Hehn, whose family won the 2008 Snohomish County Humanitarian Award for their work volunteering with orphanages, libraries and schools in Ethiopia.

To provide this library sponsorship the Friends of the Marysville Library will donate $1 for every book read by each child, teen and adult who participates. We would love to have you be a part of achieving our goal to read 2,000 books. We will be working with the Ethiopia Reads organization (www.ethiopiareads.org), whose founder, Yohannes Gebregeorgis, was recently honored as a CNN Hero.

Through Ethiopia Reads program, you will help us support three years of book purchases, materials renewal, ongoing literacy and professional skills training for librarians, teachers and aides working in each library.

The Marysville Library also has quite a few materials to help you get a flavor of the country and people you will be helping.

Children can find many fascinating facts and beautiful pictures in nonfiction books such as Mary Englar's Ethiopia: A Question and Answer Book , Jeffrey Zuehlke's Ethiopia in Pictures, and Elma Schemenauer's Ethiopia. They can delight in the folktales and Ethiopian stories contained in Elizabeth Laird's When the World Began: Stories Collected in Ethiopia, Nancy Raines Day's The Lion's Whiskers: an Ethiopian Folktale, Cristina Kessler's The Best Beekeeper of Lalibela, and Mesfin Habte-Mariam's The Rich Man and the Singer: Folktales from Ethiopia.

Jane Kurtz, who grew up in Ethiopia and now works with Ethiopia Reads from her Kansas home, has written many children's books set in Ethiopia. Her picture books include Faraway Home and Pulling the Lion's Tail, and some of her chapter books are The Storyteller's Beads and Saba: Under the Hyena's Foot.

Children as well as adults may also enjoy the musical CD Sorene: Children's Songs from Ethiopia.

There are also many intriguing and inspiring books for adults at the Sno-Isle Libraries.

In There is No Me without You, Melissa Fay Greene tells the powerful story of Haregewoin Teferra, a middle-class Ethiopian woman who initially agreed to take in two AIDS orphans and now runs an orphanage and facilitates adoptions of orphans to homes all over the world. Held at a Distance: A Rediscovery of Ethiopia is Rebecca Haile's account of returning to her homeland 25 years after having fled Ethiopia during the coup that toppled Emperor Haile Selassie.

The history of Ethiopia is well covered in Stuart Munro-Hay's Ethiopia, The Unknown Land: A Cultural and Historical Guide, and also in Paul Henze's Layers of Time: A History of Ethiopia, as well as in the classic work by John G. Jackson, Introduction to African Civilizations.

Ethiopia's physical beauty and cultural diversity are portrayed in guidebooks like the Spectrum Guide to Ethiopia and the Lonely Planet Ethiopia & Eritrea, as well as on the DVDs Ethiopia: A Portrait and Wonders of the African World.

We look forward to your assistance in helping us provide books and a library for the children of Ethiopia, and stay tuned for a future article on Summer Reading Programs at the Marysville Library.

Mark Barnett is the Reference Librarian at the Marysville Library.

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