Razia, a girl in Afghanistan, wants to attend Razia Jan's girls' school the Zabuli Education Center for Girls, but first she must get her father and brother's permission.
From the Publisher
Razia is excited when her grandfather tells her there's a school for girls being built in their Afghan village. At last, girls will have the same opportunity to be educated as boys. ?Every night I fell asleep dreaming about going to school like my brothers, ? she says. Her grandfather wants Razia to enroll in the school. He remembers a time, before the wars and the Taliban, when educated women in Afghanistan became doctors, government workers and journalists, and how this made families and the country stronger. Razia knows, however, that she will need permission from her father and her oldest brother, Aziz, in order to be allowed to attend the school. She begs her grandfather, ?Please, Baba gi, ask Baba and Aziz if I may go. I must go.' But will her grandfather's words be enough to convince the younger men of the value of an education for Razia? Inspired by real-life Razia Jan's experiences when she built the Zabuli Education Center outside of Kabul, Afghanistan, author Elizabeth Suneby uses a fictionalized story to deftly personalize the plight of many children around the world who are not being educated. The layered, mixed-media illustrations by Suana Verelst add contextual details about life in an Afghan village. This book works perfectly for a social studies lesson on global cultures. Extra resources include an overview of children worldwide who do not attend school, the story of the real Razia Jan, a glossary of Dari words found in the text and activity suggestions
Kids Can Press
September 1, 2013
32 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 32 cm.
Verelst, Suana, illustrator.
School Library Journal:
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Reviews & Awards
- Booklist, 09/15/13
- Christian Library Journal, 01/01/15
- Horn Book Magazine, 04/01/14
- Kirkus Reviews, 08/01/13
- Resource Links, 12/01/13
- School Library Journal, 09/01/13
Booklist (September 15, 2013 (Vol. 110, No. 2))
Grades 3-5. Inspired by the true story of Razia Jan, an Afghani American woman who has devoted her life to advancing the education of Afghani girls, this follows a fictionalized Razia as she begs the men in her family to be allowed to attend the new school for girls being built in her village. Even a supportive grandfather cannot sway the steadfast refusal of the patriarchy, so it is only by chance that her dream comes true. Razia’s yearning for school is described in rich, context-specific language: “They painted the door red, as bright as the flames of the tandoor.” Verelst’s mixed-media illustrations feel fresh and modern while remaining true to the rural environment, combining crisp, detailed pencil renderings with digital reproductions of traditional Afghani fabrics and photographs, situating Razia’s story firmly in the sun-bleached, rocky terrain of rural Afghanistan. The back matter includes a list of classroom-friendly activities that should help teachers encourage readers to appreciate the literary, artistic, and historical elements of this book.
Read all 4 full-text reviews …
Horn Book Guide (Spring 2014)
Razia, an Afghan girl, wants to attend the new girls' school being built in her village, but her brothers say no. By proving that education will help her family, Razia wins permission to go. The narrative ends abruptly, but the well-evoked setting, pictured in the striking mixed-media illustrations, gives a specific cultural flavor to the powerful story, inspired by a real school. Glos.
Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2013)
The United States is still involved in Afghanistan, and interest in girls' education in that war-torncountry isa strong topic of concern. Young Razia wants to attend the new girls' school that is being built in her village, but her grandfather is her only ally. Her older brothers, uneducated themselves, don't want her to attend. Little do they know that she has already taught herself to read and that she is independent enough to ask the head of the school to convince her family. It is difficult to understand why Aziz, her eldest brother, wields such power in the family, but teacher Razia Jan, modeled after a real Afghani-American who has returned to her country to spread the hope of education, knows she has to persuade him. (Confusingly, the teacher shares the protagonist's name.) However, it is young Razia herself who proves to Aziz that education can be useful when she uses her secret literacy to give him the correct dose of medicinewhen he falls ill. Using collage techniques that employphotography, traditional fabrics and realistic pencil sketches, Verelst creates a striking complement to this realistic story of contemporary life. The explanatory material at the end and the classroom activities are useful for educational settings. Purposeful in a positive way, this imaginatively illustrated book should open readers' eyes to issues facing children who live in very different circumstances.(Picturebook. 8-11)
School Library Journal (September 1, 2013)
Gr 3-5-This story was inspired by Razia Jan, an Afghani woman who lived in the U.S. but returned to Kabul to build the first girls' school there. A fictional youngster named Razia longs to go to the newly opened school for girls but must have permission from her father and oldest brother. Both the prose and the plot are predictable-her relatives refuse: "Next you'll want Razia to go into town to shop by herself," says her father to the child's supportive grandfather. "Or for women to shed their burqas in public," her brother adds. In the end, the real Razia Jan appears to convince the men, and the child is permitted to go to school. In contrast, there is nothing ordinary about the mixed-media illustrations. Each spread is a combination of muted colors, block-print designs, and evocative collage portraits of elders, active children, and the blue backs of burqa-clad women, interspersed with photographs of everyday objects: a teapot, a wool blanket, colored pencils in the school. Back matter includes a glossary of Dari words, and suggested classroom activities and discussion. Also included is a short biography of Razia Jan and a photo of her with three grinning schoolgirls. The photo brings the fictional story to life, illuminating that part of the world in which girls beg to go to school, then bring their workbooks home to teach their mothers.-Toby Rajput, National Louis University, Skokie, IL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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