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Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  379 Ratings  ·  141 Reviews
Young Nasreen has not spoken a word to anyone since her parents disappeared.

In despair, her grandmother risks everything to enroll Nasreen in a secret school for girls. Will a devoted teacher, a new friend, and the worlds she discovers in books be enough to draw Nasreen out of her shell of sadness?

Based on a true story from Afghanistan, this inspiring book will touch r
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Beach Lane Books
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Sep 17, 2010 Kathryn rated it really liked it
A very important story about the power of an education and the beauty of optimism, persistence and ingenuity in the face of adversity. I also really appreciated the author's note at the beginning, clarifying the differences between women's status in pre-Taliban Afghanistan to what came after. I think this was an excellent way to show that it was a select group of people, not "all Muslims" or "the Muslim religion", limiting the rights of women. Unfortunately, I can't say I was wild about the sty ...more
I read Nasreen's Secret School a couple of years ago, and even today, I remain in awe of the fact that in defiance of the Taliban, these secret schools for girls existed in Afghanistan (and probably still do). To claim that the brave women who opened Nasreens's secret school (and other such institutions) are courageous is almost a bit of an understatement. If Nasreen's school had been discovered, these women (as well as their pupils) would have faced draconian punishments; they might very well h ...more
Lorenzo Grandison
Feb 20, 2013 Lorenzo Grandison rated it really liked it
Nasreen's Secret School is based off a true story from Afghanistan. It's about a girl named Nasreen and her grandmother. It starts with soldiers coming to their town and creating havoc. Then Nasreen's father is taken by the soldier and is not seen again. Then the mother goes out to try to look for him, and she is never seen again also. Nasreen never talked after her parents disappeared. Her grandmother then sends her to a secret school, since going to school for girls was illegal for them, and ...more
Sep 14, 2010 Karol rated it it was amazing
This book tells the painful story of what it was like to be female in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban, and especially how an education was denied to women. A brave group indeed went against the law and held a secret school that gave hope to these girls.

The story of Nasreen herself is so sad, presumably losing both her father and mother to an Afghan prison (or worse). The spark of hope that an education brings is told very well through both the words and illustrations in this book. I hi
Lisa Vegan
Aug 30, 2010 Lisa Vegan rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: children who’ve experienced losses; children who enjoy learning about kids in other cultures
This is one of six books, and the last I read, for the September discussion at the Children's Books group's Picture Book Club, whose theme for the month is “back to school” books.

This is a Global Fund for Children book. It’s based on a real girl and her grandmother; the grandmother tells the story.

Nasreen and her grandmother are Muslim and live in Herat during the reign of the Talaban. Some horrific things happen and Nasreen develops elective mutism. Her grandmother, showing great courage, and h
Crystal Marcos
Sep 29, 2010 Crystal Marcos rated it liked it
Thanks to the Children’s Picture Book Club, I had a chance to read this book. It is a true story of a girl named Nasreen who lost both her parents when the Taliban reigned in Afghanistan. After losing her parents, Nasreen stopped talking. I can only imagine how that must have felt! The story is uplifting and shows the ability of Nasreen’s caring grandmother to find a way to help Nasreen become educated in a seemingly impossible situation. My favorite page is the description of how Nasreen no lon ...more
Dec 29, 2015 Julie rated it it was amazing
From the website of the National Coalition Against Censorship: December 2013 - Parents in Southold, Islip, West Islip, and East Islip, New York, asked school boards to ban Jeanette Winter's Nasreen’s Secret School and The Librarian of Basra because they claimed the books promote Islam. One school board member feared the titles were used to promote "the social justice agenda and pro-Muslim agenda." Read it for yourself and see. This book actually promotes education (specifically, the secret educa ...more
Karen Witzler
This picture book treads gently through a difficult subject. Not only is Nasreen forbidden to attend school , but she is traumatized by the probable death of her parents. Learning becomes not only an end in itself, but a means to heal deep wounds that are felt throughout her community. The book takes pains to present the pre-Taliban world when Afghani women had some measure of freedom. The book is narrated by Nasreen's grandmother who helps her attend a secret school for girls.
Oct 21, 2010 N_maheenayub rated it it was amazing
"Nasreen's Secret School" is based on a true story about a girl in pre-wear Afghanistan, whose parents disappeared due to the unjust action of some the Taliban government. Because of the immense loss, Nasreen stopped talking and shut herself out from the world. Her worried and caring grandmother decided to send Nasreen to a secret school for girls behind the green gate. She wanted her to experience and learn about other worlds. This book goes into Nasreen's journey at school and her eventual eme ...more
Mary Hoch
Oct 26, 2011 Mary Hoch rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1arab
This story is written from the perspective of Nasreen's grandmother. Her son, Nasreen's father, was taken away by Taliban soldiers, who, during this time, controlled Afghanistan. Once Nasreen's mother left in search of her husband, Nasreen no longer speaks. Her grandmother finds a secret school for girls, where she brings Nasreen. Nasreen eventually trusts a friend there enough to speak to her. As Nasreen awaits the return of her mother and father, she eases out of her sadness, using the knowled ...more
L13 Tracy Beling
Mar 05, 2013 L13 Tracy Beling rated it it was amazing
I have been searching for books to share with my students that give them some insight into different cultures. This is a Jane Addams Children's Book winner from 2010, and it certainly does the job.

This a true story told about a girl named Nasreen who is living in Afghanistan during the Taliban reign. Girls are not allowed to attend school so she spends her days in her house. Her father is taken away from their home, her mother leaves to find him, and her grandmother is left to care for her. Nasr
Morgan Forrest
Jul 06, 2012 Morgan Forrest rated it really liked it
Genre: Picture Book, Multicultural Literature
Lexile: 630L
Age: Primary-Upper Elementary

Nasreen's grandmother tells us this true story that reveals the truths about life in Afghanistan during the Taliban regime. When young Nasreen's mother and father disappear, she stops speaking and basically shuts down. Because women are forbidden to go to school or leave the house without a male guardian, Nasreen is growing in a world of fear and isolation. Her grandmother decides to risk everything to send Nas
Jael Quijada
Feb 20, 2013 Jael Quijada rated it liked it
Recommends it for: ages 6-10
Recommended to Jael by: English Teacher
Written from the perspective of someone who dearly loved the main character, you will read about the life of a little girl who will lose both her parents and will at one point just stop talking. Her grandmother could not bare to see her so unhappy, i mean how could she? After hearing about a secret school for girls, because in Afghanistan it was illegal for girls to go to school, Nasreen's grandmother signs her up and is willing to give everything up so that her granddaughter can get an educatio ...more
Blanco Meyers
Sep 24, 2014 Blanco Meyers rated it liked it
I read this for Banned Books Week.
Challenged in Johnson City, N.Y. schools as a suggested reading (2013) because
of violent illustrations and storyline. The book is about the Taliban taking control of an Afghan village and preventing girls from going to school. After Nasreen’s father is kidnapped and presumed killed, her grandmother smuggles her each day to an underground school where she can learn to read and write.

It always surprises me when a book based on true events is challenged because of
Oct 07, 2015 Brittnee rated it really liked it
How could you not love a book that would expand a child's worldview?
May 28, 2016 EDUC535 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Katrina Shultis

"Nasreen's Secret School" tells the brave and empowering point of view from a little girl from Afghanistan under the rule of Taliban. Her father is taken by Taliban soldiers, her mother seeks to find him, and she presumably never returns. Jeanette Winter presents the powerful message of how a little girl rose above the law that forbid women to get an education and enrolled in a "secret school". Jeanette Winter beautifully represents Nasreen's culture and brings light and hope to a
Julia Reynolds
Apr 21, 2016 Julia Reynolds rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
This book is #9 on the ALA's Most Challenged Books of 2015, for religious viewpoint, violence, and content "unsuited to age group." Because apparently a completely tame picture book, with no on-stage violence, about the oppressive Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the inspiring women and girls who resisted the rules and decided to continue to educate themselves, is JUST SO HORRIBLE WE MUST SPARE THE CHILDREN FROM IT.

What is so offensive about learning about places and people who are different? W
Maggie Hahn
Nasreen has lived a troubled life for being so young. Living in Herat, Afghanistan during war times, soldiers came and took her Papa from them. Nasreen is left with her grandmother and Mama, until one day her Mama decides to go looking for her Papa and never returns. Nasreen's grandmother cannot bare to see Nasreen, because all she does is sit quietly, she never even smiles. Finally, her grandma has an idea. She has heard of a secret school for girls, it would be dangerous to get Nasreen there b ...more
Jun 30, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful text about the triumph of the human spirit as we follow the story of a young girl who takes great risks and goes to great lengths to get an education. Nasreen's parents are taken away by soldiers and her life is changed forever. She stops speaking. She is not allowed to go to school because she is a girl, so she begins attending a secret school for girls. This text can expose students to the very real oppression of women around the world, but it can also be used as a spring b ...more
Nov 23, 2014 Librarylady90 rated it it was amazing
Jeanette Winter has yet again succeeded in creating a visually stunning and deeply meaningful picture book that looks at current issues so that children can begin to understand them. Much like her earlier books, “The Librarian of Basra” and “Wangari’s Trees of Peace,” Winter’s “Nasreen’s Secret School” tackles an difficult topic and makes it accessible.

The book is narrated by Nasreen’s grandmother, who wants Nasreen to experience the joy and wonder of going to school to learn about the world. Un
Anna Solis
Mar 06, 2014 Anna Solis rated it it was amazing
As a young girl here in the U.S. I have always thought that every other country all girls have exact the same education. But, as I began to read this book it made me realize that not all girls in other countries have the same advantage as we do in America. This book shows how an independent little girl becomes a dependent girl who only need books or an education to be happy.
This story takes place in Afghanistan and in Afghanistan only boys can go to school. Nasreeen's parents left to go look fo
Sergio Hernandez
Feb 14, 2014 Sergio Hernandez rated it really liked it
Nasreen’s Secret School is a wonderful children’s book. The story is about a child named Nasreen who lives in Afghanistan where girls and women are not allowed to go to school to study. She and her grandmother eventually find a secret school where little girls study. Nasreen flourishes in the school and she breaks out of her shell of sadness.
I believe this book should be recommended for children 7 and up because there are some difficult words in the story. This book has a great story and I hig
Feb 14, 2014 Adela rated it really liked it
Nasreen's Secret School is about how she decides to not speak after her mom leaves to go find her husband. Her grandma ricks everything to enroll Nasreen in a secret school for girls. After that Nasreen opens up and se the world ina different perspective. This book is intended for ages 6-9 I believe that is from kinder to 4th grade. I believe these ages will be ok because the book will really catch there attention. It doesnt have difficult words or to understand.

Someone who I suggest to read th
Feb 14, 2014 Diana rated it liked it
Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter is a true story from Afghanistan, this story is about a little girl who recently lost her parents and waits for their return. Ever since her parents left, she wasn’t able to speak or learn but then a little girl changed Nasreen’s education by talking to her. Nasreen starts to speak, to rad, to write, and to add and subtract.

In my opinion this book would be great for young elementary school students about possibly middle school students. This book has s
Feb 14, 2014 Lesleyest123 rated it it was amazing
"Nasreen's Secret School" was about a little girl who finds the power of education. After Nasreen's parents disappeared, her grandmother risks everything to give her granddaughter an education, and to get her to talk again. It is a great read for kids. It tells kids about how important education is and how important it is to be someones friend. It also teaches children about different cultures and how different it is in other countries. Teachers and parents would diffidently choose this book bec ...more
Tangerine Aguilar
Feb 14, 2014 Tangerine Aguilar rated it it was amazing
Nasreen's Secret School is about how a young girl finding happiness in school work. She has certain problems come her way with her parents read more to find out. I honestly believe this book would be great for 6-8 year old kids because the colorful pictures and detailed action about what goes on around the characters in the story. For example " And when the boys saw the soldiers near the green gates, they distracted them." One purpose I see when in countering this book would be putting your li ...more
Sep 19, 2010 Jenny rated it liked it
A true story of a little girl whose father is taken away by the Taliban and whose mother goes looking for him. She stops talking and her grandmother finds a secret school for her to attend so she can find some peace, knowledge and beauty again in the sad world under the Taliban. A wonderful story of courage and how knowledge changes you. We are so blessed to live in a country where education is free and available for all.
Jesus Vasquez
Feb 14, 2014 Jesus Vasquez rated it liked it
"Nasreen's secret school" written by Jeanette winter is a interesting book. Throughout this book we get an inside look at the lives of girls from foreign countries and limitations on their freedom. The audience that would best be interested in this book would be 4th graders and above. My reasoning for this is because you need to be able to put yourselves in other peoples shoes to understand it. The theme of the book is how girls in foreign countries in many cases have few rights and freedom. Par ...more
Victor Vasquez
Feb 14, 2014 Victor Vasquez rated it it was amazing
Nasreen's secret school is about a school that provides girls an education secretly in Afghanistan where women are deprived many rights one being able to recieve an education. Nasreen is a girl in lives in herat her parents are taken from home by afghanistan soldiers and could have been sent to prison or worse.

This book is ok for children above 7 and below 10. I think this book may be too boring and sad for younger children and because of this i wouldn't recommend it for younger children.

This a
Grace Livengood
Jun 07, 2016 Grace Livengood rated it it was amazing
Winter, J., & Bobco, A. (2009). Nasreen's secret school: A true story from Afghanistan. New York: Beach Lane Books.
Based on true story, Nasreen's parents were taken from her during the conflict that was going on in Afghanistan and hasn't spoken a word since they disappeared. Her grandmother sends her to a secret school for girls, since they were not allowed to be educated at this time, and Nasreen finds peace and is inspired by the things she learns about the world in her school. I love the
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