Nasreen’s Secret School (A True Story from Afghanistan) by Jeanette Winter
August 9, 2010 in Books With Social Studies Content, Elementary Educators, Helping Girls and Women Around the World, Making Personal Connections, Personal Connections, Picture Book, Preschool to 1st grade teachers, service learning projects, Winter Tags: books about Afghanistan, Helping Children in the World, Jeanette Winter, multicultural picture books
Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter is one of those special books that we should all share with children at home and in our classrooms. It is the true story of a girl in Afghanistan, Nasreen, who did not speak to anybody after the Taliban took over, and she lived with her grandmother when her parents disappeared. Her grandmother was very sad that her granddaughter could not go to school like she could, since girls were not allowed to go to school under the Tailban’s rule. But her grandmother enrolled her in a secret school, which of course was very dangerous. Eventually, Nasreen spoke to a girl at her school, and she learned to read, write, add, and subtract.
This book is a Global Fund for Children book. The Global Fund for Children is a nonprofit organization that helps children around the world. This is the fund that founded and supported secret schools, like the one Nasreen attended in Afghanistan during the Taliban’s reign from 1996-2001. Here are some shocking statistics that the author, Jeanette Winter, includes in the beginning of her book:
Before the Taliban, 70% of school teachers were women and 40% of doctors were women. After the Taliban, girls weren’t allowed to go to school and women weren’t allowed to work.
The author talks about the bravery of the Afghan people who defied the Taliban in many ways, including supporting the secret schools for girls. She also says that even though the Taliban has fallen, there is still danger in Afghanistan–death threats to teachers, schools bombed and closed down, and girls attacked and threatened.
If this story touches you and your students/children, then check out the GET INVOLVED page at the Global Fund for Children website. If you are reading this with children, talk about how education is a right to all children and how we are lucky in most countries to have the right to go to school. Ask children if they would risk their life for their education. This will lead to an interesting discussion and can even lead to a writing assignment.
Nasreen’s Secret School is a great book to show students courage, other cultures, and the importance of education!