Razia’s Ray of Hope

Hardcover Jacket
978-1-55453-816-4 | Sep 1, 2013 List Price:
USD $18.99, CAD $19.99

4-color • 9 x 12 • 32 pages
Grades: 3 To 7 / Ages: 8 to 12

978-1-77138-577-0 | Mar 3, 2020 List Price:
USD $10.99, CAD $12.99

Razia is excited when her grandfather tells her there’s a school for girls being built in their Afghan village. At last, girls will have the same opportunity to be educated as boys. “Every night I fell asleep dreaming about going to school like my brothers,” she says. Her grandfather wants Razia to enroll in the school. He remembers a time, before the wars and the Taliban, when educated women in Afghanistan became doctors, government workers and journalists, and how this made families and the country stronger. Razia knows, however, that she will need permission from her father and her oldest brother, Aziz, in order to be allowed to attend the school. She begs her grandfather, “Please, Baba gi, ask Baba and Aziz if I may go. I must go.” But will her grandfather’s words be enough to convince the younger men of the value of an education for Razia? 

Inspired by real-life Razia Jan’s experiences when she built the Zabuli Education Center outside of Kabul, Afghanistan, author Elizabeth Suneby uses a fictionalized story to deftly personalize the plight of many children around the world who are not being educated. The layered, mixed-media illustrations by Suana Verelst add contextual details about life in an Afghan village. 

This book works perfectly for a social studies lesson on global cultures. Extra resources include an overview of children worldwide who do not attend school, the story of the real Razia Jan, a glossary of Dari words found in the text and activity suggestions.


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Educational Resources


Cultures, Local & Global


Guided Reading
Guided Reading Grade Level
Lexile Level



Afghanistan   courage   education   global awareness   heritage and citizenship   initiative   Kabul   Razia Jan   cause and effect   multiculturalism


Teaching Guide - Grades 1–3
Teaching Guide - Grades 4–5
Teaching Guide - Grades 6–8
Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation

Reviews & Awards


“Purposeful in a positive way, this imaginatively illustrated book should open readers' eyes to issues facing children who live in very different circumstances.”
Kirkus Reviews, August 2013

“This inspirational story is as beautifully illustrated as it is told. It is vital that young readers have stories like this one to show them that positive change is possible in the world, and that believing in yourself is the first step.”
— Mary Chapin Carpenter, multi-platinum Grammy-winning recording artist/songwriter, September 2013

“The back matter includes a list of classroom-friendly activities that should help teachers encourage readers to appreciate the literary, artistic, and historical elements of this book.”
Booklist, September 2013


2014 USBBY Outstanding International Book, International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), Commended
2014 Jane Addams Children's Book Award, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Short-listed
2014 CCBC Choices 2014, Cooperative Children's Book Center, Winner
2014 South Asia Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, South Asia National Outreach Consortium, Winner
2014 Best Books of the Year for Children and Young Adults, Bank Street Children's Book Committee, Winner
2014 White Raven List, International Youth Library, Winner
2014 Social Justice Literature Award, International Reading Association, Winner
2014 Middle East Book Award, Picture Book, Middle East Outreach Council, Winner