Eleven-year-old Parvana lives in Taliban occupied Kabul, Afghanistan. She is still young enough that she can accompany her father to the marketplace with just a chador. However, her mother and older sister have been confined to their one room apartment for over a year. Women may only venture outside with a male escort and a burqa. When Parvana’s father is arrested by the Taliban, Parvana must disguise herself as a boy and work to support her family.
The Breadwinner gives younger readers a view of life under Taliban rule. While Parvana’s story focuses on strength in the face of adversity, it does not hide the harsh reality of war. This is a good book for parents and children to read and discuss together. It can expand the view of young readers, but especially for sensitive readers it needs some explanation. My ten-year-old was fascinated by the story, but also horrified by some things (Parvana and her friend witness people having their hands cut off for stealing.) With reading and discussion, The Breadwinner is a good way for students to learn about the world and far-away cultures.