We hear about Afghanistan on network news every night. Putting a face to the news might help us understand why we are committing ourselves to sacrifices beyond imagining.
NASREEN’S SECRET SCHOOL: A True Story From Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter, Beach Lane Books, 2009
Nasreen’s parents disappear. In sorrow and great distress, this young girl becomes mute. Her grandmother watches her suffer until she feels driven to take action. She risks everything to enroll Nasreen in a secret school for girls. In this place of warmth and friendship, healing begins. The books Nasreen learns to read and love open windows on the world.
How this secret school changes Nasreen’s life also gives the reader a glimpse–but only a glimpse--into how girls and women are treated in Afghanistan and why the Taliban is such a dreaded foe. The award winning author has written and illustrated many books for young readers based on true-life stories. She writes with sensitivity.
The risk Nasreen’s grandmother takes for her will stay with the reader. The young reader will know that when she hears about the war in Afghanistan, a little girl named Nasreen, about her age, is going to a secret school and enjoying books the same way she is. Maybe they are even reading the same books.
Children’s books are always a good way to make sense out of the world. Even better, they bring hope at the end.
May it always be so.