Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
Summary: This story chronicles the struggle of a family to stay together in tumultuous Afghanistan. The story is told from the point of view of Parvana, the middle child of the family. Parvana sees war rip apart the fabric of her family and has to take on new responsibilities in this uncertain time. Growing up all too fast, Parvana quickly learns how harsh the world can be, but also manages to see the glimmers of beauty amidst the rubble of modern day Kabul.
Reflection: I, along with my group, absolutely loved reading this book. I found myself immediately swept up in this story and relating to Parvana in ways that frightened me. She was pulled out of her sixth grade classroom right around the time we were taking our time in sixth grade for granted. The sharp contrast between the life she leads and the life we lead was striking to see. I also found that I learned a lot about what is currently happening in Afghanistan. The brutal regulations that the Taliban put on the people of Afghanistan, in particular the women, are unbelievable. I found myself trying to reconcile my lifestyle with that of the people of Afghanistan. It was a real eye-opening novel.


  1. How to Use this book in the Classroom:

    This book could be used as early as third grade (depending on the reading level). It would best be used as a book club book since there are so many possible discussions to be had. This book raises a lot ethical and moral issues, and it would be great to have students put themselves in the shoes of the characters in the story.

    Role play, reflections, and alternative endings are all other possible activities that could be done with this book. This could also be tied into a larger unit on women's rights. Comparing the treatment of these girls and women to other situations in history would be an interesting contrast to explore.

    Domains of Social Justice:
    Self-Love and Acceptance: Parvana and her family have a lot of pride in their culture. When many educated people left Afganistan, Parvana's family stayed in their home land.

    Respect for Others: This book will raise awareness about a culture that is often misrepresented in the media. Learning about this culture will hopefully instill respect in the students who read the book and teach them not to believe all they hear.

    Exploring Issues of Social Justice: The issues explored in the book are women's rights and human rights. The struggles the characters go through are realistic and recent.

    Social Movements and Social Change: Parvana and her family are living in a time of great social change. They do what they must to survive in their situation, but also work to change it. Parvana's mother starts a magazine for women to try to spread word of various social justice efforts going on to help them feel they have a voice.

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