Joint winner of the South Asia Book Award, longlisted for the Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award, selected for the IRA Notable Books for a Global Society List, the Bankstreet College of Education's Best Children’s Books of the Year 2013, the USBBY Outstanding International Book List, and the CCBC Choices List
Since its publication in 2000, hundreds of thousands of children all over the world have read and loved The Breadwinner. By reading the story of eleven-year-old Parvana and her struggles living under the terror of the Taliban, young readers came to know the plight of children in Afghanistan.
But what has happened to Afghanistan's children since the fall of the Taliban in 2001? In 2011, Deborah Ellis went to Kabul to find out. She interviewed children who spoke about their lives now. They are still living in a country torn apart by war. Violence and oppression still exist, particularly affecting the lives of girls, but the kids are weathering their lives with courage and optimism: "I was incredibly impressed by the sense of urgency these kids have — needing to get as much education and life experience and fun as they can, because they never know when the boom is going to be lowered on them again."
The two dozen or so children featured in the book range in age from ten to seventeen. Many are girls Deb met through projects funded by Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (www.cw4wafghan.ca), the organization that is supported by royalties from The Breadwinner Trilogy. Parvana’s Fund provides grants toward education projects for Afghan women and children, including schools, libraries and literacy programs.
All royalties from the sale of Kids of Kabul will also go to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan.
During a 2011 visit to Kabul, Ellis (the Breadwinner trilogy) recorded the stories of 27 Afghan children, represented in this stirring collection. While some are from prosperous families, others live in desperate circumstances. One 14-year-old is in prison for running away to escape an arranged marriage; an 11-year-old begs in the streets. Unspeakable events are described matter-of-factly ("I don't know why the Taliban killed my family"). Yet the children's hope is undimmed. When they are permitted to study, they excel, and when they are given time and space, they heal: "And look at me now! I am sitting up straight, looking you in the eye and telling my story in a loud, clear voice." They have hope for their country, too: "But if all that can stop, Afghanistan will be great, because there are so many of us who want it to be great." The dichotomy between the speakers' traumatic lives and their essential childlike natures is especially moving: one girl talks about a rocket attack and sharing makeup with her friends in almost the same breath. It's a gritty, poignant, and intensely personal glimpse into the effects of war and poverty. Ages 12 up.