Nasreen's Secret School

A True Story from Afghanistan

Illustrated by Jeanette Winter
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About The Book

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 readers deeply as it affirms both the life-changing power of education and the healing power of love.

About The Author

Drawing by Jeanette Winter

Jeanette Winter is a renowned picture book creator whose acclaimed works include Nanuk the Ice BearMalala, A Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal, A Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two Stories of BraveryHenri’s ScissorsBiblioburro: A True Story from ColombiaThe Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq; and Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Beach Lane Books (October 2009)
  • Length: 40 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416994374
  • Grades: 1 - 4
  • Ages: 6 - 9
  • Lexile ® AD630

Raves and Reviews

"Winter celebrates the importance of education, and the reminder to Western children that it is a privilege worth fighting for is a powerful one."--The Horn Book Magazine

"The personal nature of the story individualizes the conflict in Afghanistan...and the quiet, tightly focused approach helps make the situation accessible. The notion of school as a privilege revoked rather than a mandatory setnece may also elicit some thoughtful kid consideration."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Winter’s precise acrylics tell this story in matter-of-fact images: Taliban soldiers coming down the mountain to the city of Herat, “where art and music and learning once flourished”; a girl called Nasreen sitting at home, silent since her parents disappeared, forbidden to attend school; the grandmother, who tells the story, taking her to a secret girls’ school in a private home. The students’ brightly colored headscarves stand in for their bravery and eagerness to learn.”--The New York Times Book Review

"Winter tells another powerful story, based on true events, of an individual activist whose singular courage brings social change...Winter artfully distills enormous concepts into spare, potent sentences that celebrate Herat’s rich cultural, Islamic history...even as they detail the harrowing realities of Taliban rule. And in her signature style of deceptively simple compositions and rich, opaque colors, Winter’s acrylic paintings give a palpable sense of both Nasreen’s everyday terror and the expansive joy that she finds in learning."--Booklist

Awards and Honors

  • CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children's Book Council)
  • CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book
  • Jane Addams Children's Book Award
  • Parents' Choice Award
  • Skipping Stones Honor Book
  • Amelia Bloomer List
  • Horace Mann Upstanders Book Award Honor

Resources and Downloads

Common Core Suggestion

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Jeanette Winter