Razia dreams of getting an education, but in her small village in Afghanistan, girls haven't been allowed to attend school for many years. When a new girls' school opens in the village, a determined Razia must convince her father and oldest brother that educating her would be best for her, their family and their community.
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.