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Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  749 ratings  ·  216 reviews
Renowned picture book creator Jeanette Winter tells the story of a young girl in Afghanistan who attends a secret school for girls.

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
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by Beach Lane Books
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Betsy Nelson This website is not for reading books. You need to go to your library for that. This website is for cataloging books you have read or want to read.
Sue Mosher It mentions the Taliban soldiers, the Koran, and Allah, but just in passing. It mostly focuses on education.

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4.16  · 
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 ·  749 ratings  ·  216 reviews

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Matthew Errico
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This short picture book takes the reader into war-torn Afghanistan during a harsh period of Taliban control. Still, it touches on themes of hope, faith and the power of education. How education can set one free. Flowers can bloom in the harshest environments.
I read Jeannette Winter's 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. For if Nasreen's school had been discovered, these women (as well as their pupils) would have faced draconian punishments; ...more
Sep 17, 2010 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
Lorenzo Grandison
Feb 20, 2013 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 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
My ninth, and last, book for Banned Books Week.

This was just a heartbreaking, beautiful picture book about war in Afghanistan. It is told from the POV of the grandma. Who sees her son being taken away, who sees her son's wife go after him and never return, who sees the despair and sadness take place in her granddaughter Nasreen. She does something that doesn't seem much, but is a huge deal for Nasreen in the end, she makes sure Nasreen can go to school.

Of course it being strictly forbidden for
Lisa Vegan
Aug 20, 2010 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
Dec 29, 2015 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
Crystal Marcos
Sep 29, 2010 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
Blanco Meyers
Sep 24, 2014 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
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.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I got carried away reserving banned books at my library. Some of them, including this one, were children's books. This one is a true story about a little girl in Afghanistan whose Father was taken by soldiers and is left with her grandma when her mother goes in search of him. She refuses to speak until she meets a friend at a secret school that is being run for girls. Quite interesting and I would not think twice about letting a child read it.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Beautiful true story about the power of education to overcome fear and repression. I would like to read more about these secret schools for girls in Afghanistan. I hope someone writes a book on it soon! Highly recommended!
Sep 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
I realize we all need to be aware of the goings on in other country especially the horrific way women are treated. I just hope this type of book is appreciated by children.
Meredith Dickens
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
“Nasreen’s Secret School” is a beautiful informational text about the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan and the effect it had on women and girls. This book is told from the perspective of Nasreen’s grandmother as they deal with Nasreen’s parents, the grandmother’s son and wife, being stripped away from the family. The grandmother is determined to get Nasreen to school so her mind may be opened to all the world has to offer and how Herat used to be before the rule of the Taliban. They discover throug ...more
Rebecca Pridgen
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-love
I would recommend this informational book to 3rd grade readers everywhere. "Nasreen's Secret School" is a wonderful, complex picture book about the secret schools for girls in Afghanistan during the 1996-2001 reign of the Taliban. I love how the author tells the story from a grandmother's point of view while including intricate illustrations on every page. This book will open any young reader's eyes to historical events that have taken place within our global community.

I think that this book co
Anna Schlesinger
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: elm335
Informational Text

"Nasreen's Secret School" is a based on a true story of a young girl, Nasreen, in Afghanistan where girls were not allowed to go to school. The Taliban soldiers take away her father and then her mother soon disappears after she goes out to look for him. Nasreen stops talking after their disappearances. Her grandmother then takes her to the secret school for girls where Nasreen makes a friend, gets an education, and speaks again. This is a powerful text for students in grades 3-
Madison Cosby
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
Nasreen’s Secret School is a book that gives factual information in a way that makes it easier for a reader to understand. This book would be classified under the genre informational texts. This text would most likely be best for 3rd graders.

One way I could use this text in a classroom is to talk about the taliban's, and how life was in Afghanistan during that time. This book opens the door for that conversation and information. Although some information is learned from it, there is still much m
Mary Hoch
Oct 26, 2011 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
Oct 21, 2010 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
L13 Tracy Beling
Mar 02, 2013 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
Yadira Cabrera
Second Banned Book (picture, based on true story)

Nasreen’s parents disappeared and she has not spoken since then. On top of that she lives during some hard times in Afghanistan where girls are not allowed to go to school. However, her grandmother enrolls her in a secret school where Nasreen is expose to new knowledge and is able to slowly come out of her depression. The illustrations are very colorful and clearly display the events of the story. This book is appropriate for children ages 6 to 9
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"The knowledge she holds inside will always be with her like a good friend." These words paint a vivid picture of how education can be used as an instrument of freedom. During the reign of the Taliban, Nasreen's father is taken away. Her mother goes searching for him but never returns. Left in the care of her wise grandmother, Nasreen is introduced to a much bigger world from behind the walls of a secret school. Here, she finds something that can never be stolen!

This book is powerfully poignant.
Jael Quijada
Feb 20, 2013 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
Jennifer (JenIsNotaBookSnob)
This book frequently ends up on the 'banned books' list. Based on that, I decided to read it to my daughter because I have found that these most often censored books are usually the most important ones you can read to small children.

My daughter is 5 and I elected to read the author's note at the beginning of the book which explains a lot about what has happened in Afghanistan and what created the scenario that plays out in this book.

The book is sad and hopeful, which is what you would expect.
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Found this book listed as #9 on the most challenged book list of 2016 as shared by the American Library Association during the Freedom to Read celebration.
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence- all of which are ridiculous claims. Yes, this true story focuses on a little girl whose parents have gone missing due to the Taliban, but there is no obvious violence and is completely appropriate as a children's book. If there are those in our society so desperate to ban the
Sep 19, 2010 rated it really 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.

I love this quote: "Nasreen no longer feels alone. The knowledge she holds
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This books was one of my favorites. It emphasized the importance of female education as well as female empowerment and really shed some light on a different culture that I am less familiar with. Some of the topics in the books that had to do with war however may be a lot for really young kids to handle. Probably best suited for upper grade level elementary students. The plot was thick and rich yet easy to understand and possibly have a great text talk.
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
An Afghan woman tells the story of her granddaughter's experience in secret school for girls during the time of the Taliban occupation. Winter's familiar illustration style captures the look and feel of the region. Author's note at the beginning states important background information. Literary non-fiction on a hard to find topic, most elementary and middle schools will want to add this book to their libraries.
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-lit
This would be aimed at a younger audience from ages 6 on up. This keeps everyone involved with the actions taken place in the book such as her father being taken away and how women aren't supposed to go to school.It keeps you in your toes. Flora Stieglitz Straus Award
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