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list price: $12.99
also available: eBook Hardcover
category: Children's Fiction
published: Apr 2021
publisher: Orca Book Publishers

Grandmother School

by Rina Singh, illustrated by Ellen Rooney, read by Kirstie Hudson

tagged: school & education, girls & women, multigenerational

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.

This accessible audiobook features alternate text descriptions of images, including the cover.


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!

Kirstie Hudson is an editor and writer in Victoria, British Columbia. She was a reporter and producer with the CBC in Toronto, Vancouver, Prince Rupert and Victoria. In her award-winning career as a journalist, Kirstie's work was recognized with a Jack Webster Award, Radio Television Digital News Association Awards and a Gabriel Award. As an instructor at the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University, Kirstie shared her love of storytelling with students in writing, communications and journalism. She co-authored Picking Up the Pieces: Residential School Memories and the Making of the Witness Blanket with Carey Newman. In 2020, the book was a finalist for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize and the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Nonfiction.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
6 to 8
1 to 3
Reading age:
6 to 8
  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection
  • Commended, OLA Best Bets Top Ten
Editorial Reviews

“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

“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

“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

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