To learn more about “The Greatest Country,” go online at www.thegreatestcountry.com. Also, Abe Benkhaled will be speaking at noon Saturday as part of Exceptional Children’s Week at Barnes & Noble in The Avenue-Forsyth.
Abe Benkhaled has a father from Pakistan and a mother from Ethiopia — and all three are proud to be Americans.
The father-son duo used that love of this nation to write a children’s book called “The Greatest Country,” which they released on President’s Day. It has quickly drawn national attention.
Benkhaled, a sixth-grader at Piney Grove Middle School, said his immigrant parents have reminded him to be grateful for the opportunities he has as an American.
“I wanted to express my feelings and show my appreciation for America and all the great things it has done,” he said.
Though Benkhaled was born in America, he still visits his family in his parents’ native countries, said his father, B.K. Bhutta.
“When he goes over there,” Bhutta said, “he sees how people live in other countries. That gives him a very strong sense of appreciation for everything here.”
Benkhaled said it also may have given him a different perspective than his peers.
The book took two years to write, though he didn’t know the end result when he started.
“My dad would give me a topic, I would research it, write down important notes and we would discuss it,” he said. “At the very end he told me I’d written a book.”
It felt like homework at the time, but Benkhaled said he’s so proud of the accomplishment and plans three more books in the series.
Bhutta said the two had discussed the idea of writing a book when Benkhaled was younger. He gave his son short assignments so the task of writing one wouldn’t seem overwhelming.
As part of research for his dissertation, Bhutta interviewed many people in his native Pakistan about their attitudes toward the U.S.
He heard many stories privately from individuals who were inspired by Americans or thankful for the work America did in their nation.
The book he wrote with his son was inspired by that research, he said.
He hopes “The Greatest Country” captures the feelings of patriotism children can understand, without the involvement of political differences.
“This is not a political book,” Bhutta said. “This is straight from the heart.”
The book is divided into sections, with historical and inspirational information about the American spirit. The section about the military was Benkhaled’s favorite to research and write.
“They have the coolest gadgets and airplanes, aircraft carriers,” he said. “But really, they sacrifice their lives for us to protect us and keep us free.”
After reading the book, Benkhaled hopes children will feel inspired to reach their goals in the land of opportunity.
“They should feel proud and very fortunate to be living here,” he said. “This is the greatest country.”