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Razia’s Ray of Hope: One Girl’s Dream of an Education

Verelst, Suana (Illustrator)
Kids Can Press 2013. 32 pages
First published: 2013
Series: CitizenKid
ISBN: 9781554538164 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Non-Fiction
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

character, point of view, setting

Award

USBBY Outstanding International Books List – 2014

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Based on the founding of the Zabuli Education Centre for Girls, in Afghanistan. Razia dreams of attending the new school, despite her oldest brother’s decision against it. The language submerges readers in Razia’s perspective. She enlists her grandfather’s help: “‘Have you spoken to Baba and Aziz yet?’ ‘I will, I will, my dear Razia,’ Baba Gi would say as he patted my head. It was always, ‘I will.’”

This dense tale is perfect for confident readers, who may notice the cheerful, positive persistence that Razia manages to maintain. There is the opportunity to compare Razia’s hurdles (and coping strategies) with their own.

Illustrations depict Razia’s world realistically and artfully. As the men of Razia’s family decide her fate, a corresponding gathering of women are invisible beneath burqas. Colourful supplies gleam on school desks, while Razia’s face shines with excitement and wonder.

The story ends beautifully as the pre-literate girls of Razia’s new class share intentions about their futures. “I have always dreamed of being a teacher. And I promised my mother—and my oldest brother, Aziz—that I would practice on them.”

Extensive back material, including a glossary and classroom activities, enriches the story’s powerful message.

  •  

    Discuss the differences between girls and boys attending school in Afghanistan. Why do you think this is?

  •  Write a list of all the things you want to learn about in school. What would you miss most if you could not go to school?
  •  

    Write a letter that could have been written to the girl’s father and brothers, persuading them to let Razia go to school.

  •  Compare and contrast Razia’s life with your own. What is similar? What is different?
  •  

    Imagine if you were not allowed to go to school. . . . What if you did not know how to read or write? How would your life be different?

  •  Write a journal entry to describe a day in Razia’s life. Scan the text to identify activities that occupy her time.
  •  Read the story of ‘The Real Razia Jan’ at the end of the book. In 2012, Razia was selected by Cable News Network (CNN) as one of their Top 10 heroes. Why do you think she was given this honour?
  • To construct his/her identity
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Ethics and Religious Culture