Today is International Literacy Day. UNESCO marks this day as a reminder to the international community that literacy remains a challenge for 796 million adults and 67.4 million children around the world.
My recommendation for a children's book to commemorate today's event is Nasreen's Secret: a true story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter (958.1 WinN 2009 PIC BK).
Nasreen's father has been dragged off by the Taliban leaving Nasreen, her mother and grandmother alone and without resources. Eventually, Nasreen's mother leaves to search for her husband and Nasreen ceases to speak. Her grandmother, in desperation to alleviate some of Nasreen's trauma, takes her to secret school for girls. Her desperate wish is for Nasreen to learn about the bigger world and Afghanistan's own rich cultural history. It's not until her friendship with Mina helps her overcome her grief that Nasreen begins to learn about more peaceful and prosperous places beyond her country's borders.
The grandmother's wish for Nasreen to go to school to learn about world underlines the power of knowledge and the hope that with knowledge comes peace for Nasreen and perhaps, Afghanistan.