Northeast Library Children's Corner

Northeast Library

Northeast Library Children's Corner

Book Pick

Nasreen’s Secret School:
A True Story from Afghanistan, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter, is a true story narrated by a grandmother who lives in Herat, an ancient city in Afghanistan. Soldiers come to the house and drag away the grandmother’s son, with no explanation. Days later, her daughter-in-law leaves to investigate the incident and never returns. The grandmother is left with her granddaughter, Nasreen, who becomes silent waiting for the return of father and mother.  Seeing the despair in Nasreen’s expressionless face, the grandmother wants her to be educated about the music and the art of Herat. She remembers there is “a secret school for girls—behind a green gate in a nearby lane.” The school is secret, because the Taliban has forbidden girls to attend school. Nasreen enrolls in school and eventually regains her voice and finds friendship.

For children, this is a story about a grandmother’s love for her granddaughter, overcoming fear, instability and loneliness, and a little’s girl awakenings to the possibilities of education, friendship and hope. Parents may find the topic too advanced for younger children. However, compared to some of the traditional fairytale scenarios, this is a mild story.  

In Your Community

Within walking distance from your Northeast Branch is an exhibition currently on view at the Library of Congress until May 8, 2010, titled Voices from Afghanistan.  It highlights letters sent by citizens of Afghanistan to Radio Azadi (Freedom), the Afghan branch of Radio Free Europe. The letters capture the concerns and hopes of ordinary citizens in Afghanistan living under difficult conditions of war and conflict. The exhibition of 65 items includes an image of a school for girls located in the Helmand province, and a story similar to Nasreen’s.

--By Carroll Johnson