National Endowment of the Arts - The Big Read
The Thief and the Dogs

The Thief and the Dogs

by Naguib Mahfouz

The basis of any appreciation for literature is education and a concern for language.


Naguib Mahfouz (Image by Barry Iverson/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Teachers may consider the ways in which these activities may be linked to other Big Read community events. Most of these projects could be shared at a local library, a student assembly, or a bookstore.

  1. Photo Gallery: Divide students into four groups. Assign each group one of the following topics:
    1. Ancient Egypt
    2. Egyptian countryside, including crops grown today
    3. Modern Cairo
    4. Twentieth-century political leaders
    Ask each group to find and print photographs relating to its assigned topic and write captions for each. Assemble the photographs into a gallery that can be shown at a school assembly or in conjunction with a Big Read event in your community.
  2. Performance: Work with your school’s drama instructor to produce a reader’s theatre or stage version of the novel. Students who do not feel comfortable acting can work on lighting, set creation, or costume design.

  3. Artist’s Gallery: Ask students to draw or paint a scene from the novel or design a new jacket for the book. Display the artwork in your school’s hallway or at a local Big Read event.

  4. Read-a-thon: Naguib Mahfouz was known to frequent cafés in Cairo. Ask a local coffee shop to sponsor a read-a-thon of The Thief and the Dogs. Team with a culinary arts program at a local high school or college to provide typical Arabic sweets for patrons to enjoy with their coffee.
  5. Adaptation: Divide the class into groups. Ask students to adapt their favorite scenes from the novel using your town or city as a setting. They should write all the dialogue and take the parts of all the characters. Ask each group to perform its scene for the entire class or at a student assembly. Afterward, discuss the shift in setting. How did it change the story? Do the types of characters in The Thief and the Dogs exist in our society? If so, what issues do our cultures share? If not, why are Americans different?
  6. Cultural Appreciation: Teaming with a world history, current affairs, or social studies class, plan a day to explore Egyptian culture. Play Egyptian music, show the subtitled movie of The Thief and the Dogs (1962), enjoy Egyptian food, and talk about recent news events that have special relevance to the Egyptian people.
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