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list price: $19.95
also available: eBook Audiobook
category: Children's Fiction
published: May 2020
publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Grandmother School

by Rina Singh, illustrated by Ellen Rooney

tagged: school & education, multigenerational, girls & women

Every morning, a young girl walks her grandmother to the Aajibaichi Shala, the school that was built for the grandmothers in her village to have a place to learn to read and write. The narrator beams with pride as she drops her grandmother off with the other aajis to practice the alphabet and learn simple arithmetic. A moving story about family, women and the power of education—when Aaji learns to spell her name you’ll want to dance along with her. 
Women in countless countries continue to endure the limitations of illiteracy. Unjust laws have suppressed the rights of girls and women and kept many from getting an education and equal standing in society. Based on a true story from the village of Phangane, India, this brilliantly illustrated book tells the story of the grandmothers who got to go to school for the first time in their lives.

About the Authors

Rina Singh has published several critically acclaimed books for children inspired by her Indian Canadian heritage, including the picture book Grandmother School?? and the board books Holi Colors and Diwali Lights. Her book Diwali: A Festival of Lights for middle-grade readers was nominated for the Red Cedar Award, and A Forest of Stories has been translated into many languages. Rina lives in Toronto.

Ellen Rooney is an illustrator, designer and artist. She's originally from Massachusetts, but now lives in the southern Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. She loves graphic shapes, textured color, printmaking, drawing outdoors, painting --- and her hidden art powers are released when cutting up paper!
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
6 to 8
1 to 3
Reading age:
6 to 8
  • Short-listed, Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award
  • Short-listed, BC and Yukon Book Prizes, Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize
  • Short-listed, The Egghead: Doug Wright Award for Best Kids' Book
  • Commended, OLA Best Bets Top Ten
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection
Editorial Reviews

“Joy is evident on the page—and infectious...A spirited book about gender, age, rights, and the importance of education.”

— Kirkus Reviews

“A wonderful and poignant story about the need for literacy and how vital learning to read is.”

— The Globe and Mail

“Offers its readers a poignantly lively picture book that expressly reveals the power and freedom found in words for women across the world. How great a treat it will be to read this book in a grandmother’s lap. Highly Recommended.”

— CM: Canadian Review of Materials

“A moving story about family, women and the power of education?when Aaji learns to spell her name you’ll want to dance along with her.”

— Here Wee Read blog

“Gorgeous…Colors are crisp and contemporary…Provides a surprising angle to the growing body of children’s books about gender inequality and the continued work of pioneers like Aaji.”

— Booklist

"The connection between the little girl and the grandmother is the touching heart of this story."

— Canadian Children's Book News

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