12 thoughts on “The Breadwinner

  1. This book was amazing! I am glad that I chose this book as one of my books to read. It is so sad to think that people actually live this way.

  2. Marina Rozick, Alana Watson, Lindsey Wedemeyer says:

    After reading the Breadwinner our eyes were opened to the life that people, especially women, have to live in Afghanistan. The first truth about Afghanistan that we had to realize was that everything is in ruins. Most of the buildings are crumbling and so many people have lost so much in the bombings. The hardest truths we had to read about were the extreme suppression of women. We couldn’t imagine having to live in a world where we couldn’t leave our house without a male escort or having to cover our face. The book highlighted the lives of the Afghan people that we never get to see in the news. We always think that everyone in the Middle East is a bad person and wants to do America harm, but they’re just innocent people living in a country with a few bad people. The author did an amazing job of keeping the reader interested, but also keeping the material factually based. We will definitely try to use this book for lessons in our future classrooms.

  3. Rachael Kamicker & Renee Cantrell says:

    After reading The Breadwinner, we had a greater understanding of life in the Middle East, especially for women. Our previous notions about the Middle East were collectively negative. The only knowledge that we possessed about the Middle East pertained to the negative connotations that are broadcasted in the media. However, after reading the book we were both able to understand the cruelty and control that the Taliban imposes on the citizens. We both admit our cultural ignorance and are glad that through reading The Breadwinner, we can better understand the oppression that people, particularly women, face in the Middle East. Parvana was a true literary heroine because of the risks she took throughout the book, such as dressing up like a boy to make money and rescuing a troubled woman she found on the street. Although the setting is halfway across the world and includes battles that most children do not have to face in the U.S., we still felt that the story was relatable in many ways. Parvana was relatable because she showed emotion during her hardships and battled with those difficult decisions just like any other child would. This book addressed a variety of themes that many individuals can understand, from the value of family and friendship to the importance of education to taking necessary risks for survival. This book would be an excellent book to share in a classroom to shed light on other cultures. It also would be a great integration of social studies into the reading curriculum.

  4. Renee Cantrell & Rachael Kamicker says:

    After reading The Breadwinner, we had a greater understanding of life in the Middle East, especially for women. Our previous notions about the Middle East were collectively negative. The only knowledge that we possessed about the Middle East pertained to the negative connotations that are broadcasted in the media. However, after reading the book we were both able to understand the cruelty and control that the Taliban imposes on the citizens. We both admit our cultural ignorance and are glad that through reading The Breadwinner, we can better understand the oppression that people, particularly women, face in the Middle East.
    Parvana was a true literary heroine because of the risks she took throughout the book, such as dressing up like a boy to make money and rescuing a troubled woman she found on the street. Although the setting is halfway across the world and includes battles that most children do not have to face in the U.S., we still felt that the story was relatable in many ways. Parvana was relatable because she showed emotion during her hardships and battled with those difficult decisions just like any other child would. This book addressed a variety of themes that many individuals can understand, from the value of family and friendship to the importance of education to taking necessary risks for survival. This book would be an excellent book to share in a classroom to shed light on other cultures. It also would be a great integration of social studies into the reading curriculum.

  5. Steph Bucci & Kim Moose says:

    Our reaction when we read this book was that it was a heartwarming story. We felt that we could use this book during a sharing lesson or possibly a lesson about different cultures. In the book the two girls do not have any shoes. After they had each found one of the shoes they starting to share every other day. This would be a great lesson for young children ages kindergarten through second grade in showing the students that sharing is important and that it helps to build friendships. This would also be really good to introduce a new culture. This book would help to show students how some people in other countries do not have the same type of things that we do, and when they do get things, how much they appreciate them. This would help children to understand the conditions that children in other countries live in. This story could be used in a unit that also incorporates social studies.

  6. Hannah Shaffer says:

    The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis is an eye opening novel about the hardships many faced in Afghanistan. Parvana, the protagonist shows so much courage at her young age. I could not imagine what it would be like for me to be in her shoes. She is able to provide for her family and as well as find new opportunties to make money. Ellis does an outstanding job of capturing the readers attention throughout the novel which makes you not want to stop reading. The author also provides insight on real life situations that occured during this time. I was interested in the way the Taliban treated others, especially those who were educated, like Parvana’s father. In addition, women we not treated equally. Parvana’s courage helped her family survive through the stuggles they had faced. This would be a great book for exposing students to the Middle East. They can use this source to connect their own life experiences to Parvana’s. 

  7. Jennifer Comstock says:

    I found Parvana’s story in “The Breadwinner” intriguing because of the setting and events taking place. The Middle East was only a place that appeared on the news when something bad happened. When I read “The Bread winner”, I became part of Parvana’s world and experienced all of the things she did in living her life as a female in an area ruled by the Taliban. My Middle East perspective changed because I developed a sense of ownership to the area. I felt as she did that the Afghan people are welcoming to guests but were intolerant of any intruders such as the Taliban. The bravery Parvana displayed as she struggled to support her family when her father was captured, was one way that females in the area survived. Females secretly established a communication network that permitted women to enjoy freedom that they previously enjoyed. As much as I related to Parvana, I don’t think I could have done the things she did for her family.

  8. Melissa Blose says:

    After reading this book, I developed a great deal of respect for the main character, Parvana. Growing up under the Taliban could never be easy, and considering she had to take on many responsibilities at such a young age, I give her a lot of credit. When her dad was taken to prison, Parvana lost the one person that she felt connected with. Parvana and her dad did everything together and once he was gone, it was up to her to keep the family going. She changed into a boy to make money for her family and to keep food on the table since she was the one in her household that could go out without a burqa. This book was astounding, and it got me to consider the challenging lifestyles some children have to go through. The experiences Parvana has had in her life does not even compare to how we have grown up here in the United States. I thought “The Breadwinner” was an excellent story that showed the value of family, and how to keep faith even in the toughest of times.

  9. Lacey Pickens says:

    In the book The Breadwinner, I valued the story Parvana shared about her life and what was expected of her. I also noticed how mature she was in the book; she received some dried fruit and counted out how many there are so that she saved enough in order for her family to each have a piece of dried fruit. I know at this age I was not concerned about sharing my food with my family; however, I did not live in the conditions that Parvana lived. I think the book gives an insight into how different growing up can be in life and why people act or say the things they say.
    I am a little apprehensive in using this book in my classroom because I don’t know how parents in my classroom would react or how I would portray the book if I had children in my classroom that were from the Middle East. I think that if I really wanted to use this book in my classroom then I would let parents know about what I was going to teach so that if there were any problems with using the book they would be dealt with and hopefully resolved. I also think that I would teach my students some of the good things about the Middle East since there are some good things. I think this would help to lighten the subject and might make parents realize that I’m not just having their child read this book but that I want them to really digest the book and think about what they would do if they were Parvana. I just feel that this would be a very uncomfortable book to read for some people. I think that there is great value in reading this book and have small discussions about it.

  10. Endrizzi, Reed, & Camardese says:

    Diana Reed
    In The Breadwinner, Parvana, the female protagonist, finds she needs to conquer her fears and reconstruct a daily living pattern for herself and her family, after the Taliban take her father and bomb her home. Because she is still pre-adolescent, she is able to dress like a boy and enter the marketplace to earn money for her mother and siblings. She takes on the job her father once held, that of reading and writing for those unable, along with selling small items on a tea tray. Later she is persuaded to join other children digging up bones from nearby graves for money.
    Deborah Ellis’s emphasis on Parvana’s strength throughout the trials of war intrigues me. When the Taliban take the father away to prison, the family is devastated. Parvana’s older sister, Nooria, becomes the family caretaker of the younger siblings as the mother appears to have an emotional breakdown and Parvana becomes the breadwinner. Another strong female figure, Mrs. Weera, enters the storyline. She lost most of her family and instead of falling apart, she becomes part of the Parvana’ family and later begins a secret school for a small number of Afghan girls. Parvana’s friend, Shauzia, also a disguised girl in the marketplace, demonstrates her strength and independence by setting a lofty goal of leaving her family and country to live in France. Still another example of female inspiration is illustrated as mother and Mrs. Weera work in secret with other women to publish a magazine containing stories about what was happening in Afghanistan.
    The Breadwinner offers universal themes. Even if the reader is not Afghan, Muslim or has never experienced the devastation of war, the strong ties of family, the courage to face adversity and the discovery that all human beings have similar needs and emotions are themes that unify all races, ages and genders. I think those universal themes are what draw readers from many backgrounds to resonate with the same book.
    As an early childhood educator, I am enchanted with wordless books for this very reason. I have found that children of diverse learning abilities, languages and backgrounds are able to begin to explore these broad universal themes through this genre. In an Israeli book, A Circle of Friends, by Giora Carmi, the theme of helping others in need and the joy in sharing is expressed with no words at all, but by simple, beautiful illustrations. Universal themes attract readers of all ages by communicating a timeless message.
    Charlene Klassen Endrizzi
    I agree with your focus on the strength and inspiration evoked by these Afghan girls, which reminds me of the term resilience that I use in my work alongside struggling readers. I believe resilience witnessed within fictional characters like Parvana provides a vital opportunity for American teens to re-examine their own lives. At first when I compare my teenage son’s lifestyle to Parvana’s war torn life, I see few similarities. Yet common goals like the desire to bond with friends (Shauzia) or the awkwardness and uncertainty that accompany hormonal changes (frustration with Nooria or Ali) have the potential to draw American teens into a different family life in Kabul, Afghanistan.
    Combining the exploration of historical fiction, The Breadwinner, with non-fiction texts like Scholastic Scope August 2013 offers teen readers the chance to make vital real life connections. This month’s Scholastic Scope magazine for teens, which my son just brought home from school, features the extraordinary 16 year old Pakastani teen activist, Malala Yousafzai, who gained international attention a year ago when she was shot by the Taliban, in response to her on-going international pleas for universal education for all girls. Through her current recovery process in England, her voice for girls in the Middle East has grown more refined.
    In Malala’s recent address to the United Nations on Malala Day, July 12, 2013, she explains her goal, “I speak not for myself but so those without a voice can be heard… Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.” We see Deborah Ellis echoing a similar sentiment in chapter one. “Both of [Parvana’s] parents had been to university, and they believed in education for everyone, even girls.” My work today in literacy education is a result of my family’s constant focus on education as well.
    I am inspired by Malala’s social justice crusade, listening to “those without a voice”, and see possibilities for productive explorations. I witness images of teen idols like Taylor Swift within this month’s Scholastic Scope and ponder how we as teachers could juxtapose various teen images. Fifty years ago, the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Alabama focused America’s attention on the power of African American children to confront racial injustice. I am left wondering how the Millennial generation today could draw inspiration and strength from teens across the globe or from our American past in order to consider social injustices within their lives.
    Amy Camardese
    I too was drawn into Parvana’s story by her unique circumstances and a culture very different from my own. The relationships between Parvana and her parents, sisters Nooria and Maryam, and little brother Ali, seemed to be very typical of familial relationships we might see in the U.S. These relationships create a sense of reality and allow the reader to connect with the characters. For example, when Parvana is asked by her mother to fetch water, Parvana complains about the task and then has a verbal exchange with her sister Nooria. “If you had fetched it yesterday, when Mother asked you, you wouldn’t have so much to haul today,” Nooria said. . . I know in my family this sort of banter was fairly frequent and, I believe, normal.
    Once the characters have been established as individuals who have similar relationships to those we might find in our corner of the world, the reader is able to have empathy for the life situation Parvana’s family experiences. It is difficult to imagine an 11 year old in the U.S. needing to disguise herself in order to survive and whom the family relies upon. The situation for Parvana’s family seems to deteriorate throughout the book; I almost wonder if it is too dark for some 10 and 11 year old readers. I wanted something good to happen! Just like Diana, I found a much-needed positive moment in Parvana’s friendship with Shauzia, another female disguised in male clothing, responsible for the survival of her family. Their ability to earn additional money by digging up bones in the graveyard made a significant difference in the income both girls generated for their families. This example portrays the gruesome extremes that are often necessary for human survival.
    I find it necessary to stipulate that The Breadwinner does not represent the value placed on women in all of the Middle East. I would want students to understand that the Taliban and the political situation in Afghanistan turned the culture and lifestyle upside down. Prior to the Taliban, Afghanistan had a very different atmosphere; education for men and women was valued and women often held positions of importance. As Parvana’s mother noted, “We used to walk down the streets at midnight, eating ice cream.”
    Because of the political upheaval, the people now in control of the country affect all aspects of life. I want students to recognize how the government influences the prevailing culture. A small example might be to ask students how their lives would be different if all video games were banned in the U.S. Could something like this happen in the United States? What do we need to think about as citizens to prevent the slaughter of people and the closing of minds?

  11. Alicia Bullington says:

    I recently read this book for a class, and I loved it. It was great to see the courage of Parvana to provide for her family at such a young age. It had to be terrifying for her, but the fact she was brave enough to go out with such limits on women was so encouraging and thrilling to read about. I think it got a easier when she knew another girl who was doing the same thing as her so it was like they leaned on each other. I can’t imagine living with that such limitations on women, but I was glad to see the strength of Parvana, especially at such a young age.

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