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Speakers Bureau Page

Karen Leggett Abouraya

I grew up in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, surrounded by writing and books: my father was a journalist and my mother is a retired school librarian. For many years, I broadcast news on ABC Radio WMAL in Washington, D.C., where I began reviewing and discussing children’s books.

I graduated from Brown University, where I studied international relations.  I once worked in Paris, France and traveled with a backpack through Indonesia, but then I met my Egyptian husband right in Washington, D.C. We have two adult children and have been lucky enough to visit Egypt many times – especially Alexandria, my husband’s hometown. Now my husband and I are the leaders of a group called Friends of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Maryland, D.C., Virginia), which supports the Children’s Library in Alexandria, Egypt.

In 2012, my first children’s book – and illustrator Susan Roth’s 40th (maybe more) – was published: Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books. I find it very exciting to share modern Egypt with young readers through my book and my conversations with students.

My Books

Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words

Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words
Illustrated by Susan L. Roth
Published by Lee & Low, 2019

Hardback, paper back, plus Spanish edition
Ages 8 - 12

2015 California Reading Association Eureka! Silver Award


“…her words and her storytelling are clear and moving, revealing a real talent for understanding young audiences. Instead of introducing or explaining the Taliban within the body of the story, for example, she leaves it in a longer endnote, so that the main narrative can focus on Malala herself. “

Hands Around the Library: Protecting Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books - English and Arabic covers

Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books
Illustrated by Susan L. Roth
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012
Ages 8 – 12

*Kirkus starred review:

"Freedom and libraries: an essential combination...A stunning visual recreation of a recent historical event."

All Reviews


  • 2013 Middle East Outreach Council Children’s Book Award
  • 2013 Arab American Book Award
  • 2013 Notable Social Studies Trade Books
  • 2013 Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books
  • 2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices
  • 2013 Notable Books for a Global Society - International Reading Association
  • 2013 National Council of Teachers of English Orbis Pictus Nonfiction Recommended Book
  • 2013 Best Books for Young Children - Children's Africana Book Awards Committee

Handsaroundthelibrary.com includes resources, activities and ideas for teachers and students; photo galleries of large and tiny libraries all around the world; background about the Bibliotheca Alexandrina; and a blog about Egypt, libraries and much more.

Author Visits

Author VisitsI am eager to visit with students, teachers and librarians in person or online. My books are geared for children in grades 3-5, but I can adapt the conversation for older or younger students -especially talking about civic engagement or student writing. I am very willing to tailor my presentation to specific curriculum objectives and frequently include hands-on activities to encourage students to write, think critically and speak up. Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss rates and other details.



Author Visits

Book Trailers