Throughout history and even in some places today, girls have not always had the same opportunities as boys when it comes to schools and education. These picture books share the power of girls and schools to make a difference. Share one and empower a young girl (or boy) in your life!
China, 1900s. Ruby's Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. (H/T Kendra at Simply Learning Together.) This story is based on the experiences of the author's own grandmother, who grew up in China at a time when all the girls in her family were expected to get married and only the boys were expected the stay in school. Ruby fights for her own education, writing a fiercely honest poem that impresses her grandfather. A story about the importance of standing up for yourself.
The Great Depression, 1933. The Lucky Star by Judy Young and illustrated by Chris Ellison. During the Great Depression in the United States, many smaller schools were closed due to lack of funds and many students dropped out of school to help support their families. The Lucky Star is the story of fifth-grader Ruth who learns how to be her little sister's lucky star by teaching her and other neighbor children how to read, write, and do arithmetic after their local school closes down. This book would be a great tie-in to lessons about this time in US History.
Afghanistan, 1990-2000s. Nasreen's Secret School: a true story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter. Young Nasreen stops speaking after the Taliban take her parents away and close down schools for girls in Afghanistan. Her grandmother finds out about and sends her to a secret school for girls where she slowly opens up and learns the importance of knowledge. This book highlights some of the challenges facing girls who want to get an education.
Afghanistan, 2000s. Razia's Ray of Hope: one girl's dream of an education by Elizabeth Suneby and illustrated by Suana Verelst. This powerful picture book is based on the true story of the Zabuli Education Center started by Razia Jan outside Kabul, Afghanistan. The main character, also named Razia, finds out about the construction of the new school and wants desperately to attend. Despite her grandfather's support, her brother initially bans her from going. Only by proving the power of an education and convincing the teacher to come speak to her family, does Razia get to go to school. The book includes statistics about children not in school as well as the back story about Razia Jan, the school's founder. There is also a page of possible classroom activities and discussion questions. (H/T Carol at Carol's Corner.)
Pakistan, 2010s. Every Day is Malala Day by Rosemary McCarney. The book opens with an overview of Malala and provides background knowledge about how she was attacked for supporting education for girls in Pakistan. The rest of the book is a photo essay that pairs letters written by girls around the world with evocative photographs of other girls and some of the difficulties they face in getting an education. This book is a way to address the modern problems with girls and schools for students who might be too young to read Malala's own autobiography, I am Malala: the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban.
The Power of Girls and Schools
Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday Challenge is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and is a weekly roundup of educator blogs that are sharing nonfiction picture books. Click the link to check out other nonfiction posts.