Razia's Ray of Hope

Reading List

Razia's Ray of HopeFor Younger Readers

Razia's Ray of Hope: One Girl's Dream of an Education by Elizabeth Suneby, illustrated by Suana Verelst. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2013. Grades 3–6.

     Razia dreams of getting an education, but in her small village in Afghanistan, girls haven't been allowed to attend school for many years. When a new girls' school opens in the village, a determined Razia must convince her father and oldest brother that educating her would be best for her, their family, and their community. Proceeds from the sale of this book help support the Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation. Details here.


For Middle School and High School

Camel Bells by Janne Carlsson. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2002. Grades 4–7.

     In the late 1970s, Hajdar leaves his village in the countryside of Afghanistan for the excitement of the capital city Kabul, but he and his family are swept up in the turmoil when the Soviet Union invades his country.

Mud City by Deborah Ellis. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2004. Grades 4–7.

     In the third book in the Breadwinner Trilogy, orphan Afghan refugee Shauzia leaves the rough Pakistan border camp and joins other homeless children on the streets of the city of Peshawar.

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2001. Grades 5–8.

     Because the Taliban rulers of Kabul, Afghanistan, impose strict limitations on women's freedom and behavior, 11-year-old Parvana must disguise herself as a boy so that her family can survive after her father's arrest.

Haveli by Suzanne Fisher Staples. New York: Knopf, 1993. Grade 6 and up.

     Having relented to the ways of her people in Pakistan and married the rich older man to whom she was pledged against her will, Shabanu is now the victim of his family's blood feud and the malice of his other wives. Sequel to Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind.

Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2005. Grade 6 and up.

     During the 2001 Afghan War, the lives of Najmal, a young refugee from Kunduz, Afghanistan, and Nusrat, an American-Muslim teacher who is awaiting her husband's return from Mazar-i-Sharif, intersect at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Parvana's Journey by Deborah Ellis. Toronto: Groundwood Books, 2003. Grades 7–10.

     Thirteen-year-old Parvana and other Afghan children search the countryside for missing parents. Sequel to The Breadwinner.

Come Back to Afghanistan: A California Teenager's Story by Said Hyder Akbar & Susan Burton. New York: Bloomsbury. 2005. Grade 8 and up.

     Akbar's refreshingly unsentimental reminiscences of visiting his father's homeland as a teen make for an intriguing portrait of Afghanistan at a time of significant transition.

My Forbidden Face: Growing Up Under the Taliban by Latifa. New York: Hyperion, 2001. Grades 9–12.

     Before the Taliban takeover, Latifa's life revolved around school, friends, parties, and movies. Suddenly, she was confined to her apartment, unable to venture out uncovered by the hated burka.

Refugees by Catherine Stine. New York: Delacorte, 2005. Grades 9–12.

     Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Dawn, a 16-year-old runaway from San Francisco, connects by phone and e-mail with Johar, a gentle, 15-year-old Afghan who assists Dawn's foster mother, a doctor, at a Red Cross refugee camp in Peshawar.


For Adults


  • And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
  • In the Eyes of Anahita by Hugo Bonjean

Khaled Hosseini books


  • I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  • The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe  by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
  • The Places In Between by Rory Stewart
  • Farishta by Patricia McArdle
  • Afghanistan: Land of Conflict and Beauty by John C. Griffiths
  • Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the Fall of the Taliban by Stephen Tanner
  • The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban by Sarah Chayes
  • Taliban by Ahmed Rashid
  • West of Kabul, East of New York by Tamim Ansary
  • The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs
  • Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen
  • A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis by David Rieff
  • Creating a World Without Poverty by Mohammed Yunus
  • The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier
  • Dark Victory: The United States and Global Poverty by Walden Bello
  • Too Poor for Peace? Global Poverty, Conflict and Security in the 21st Century by Lael Brainard
  • Freedom From Poverty as a Human Right by Thomas Pogge
  • Islam and the West by Bernard Lewis
  • Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World by Edward Said
  • Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
  • What Do Muslims Believe? The Roots and Realities of Modern Islam by Ziauddin Sardar
  • The Great War for Civilization by Robert Fisk


Sources: Diane Campbell, former Department Head of English, Wellesley Middle School, Wellesley, MA; Beyond Belief Screening and Action Guide, Principle Pictures Inc., Plymouth, MA; Embassy of Afghanistan.