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Lit Circles - Primary: Parvana

About the book

Parvana by Deborah Ellis



"The lesson here, my daughters," he looked from one to the other, "is that Afghanistan has always been the home of the bravest women in the world. You are all brave women. You are all inheritors of the courage of Malali." 


There are many types of battle in Afghanistan.Imagine living in a country where women and girls are not allowed to leave the house without a man. Imagine having to wear clothes that cover every part of your body, including your face, whenever you go out. This is the life of Parvana, a young girl growing up in Afghanistan under the control of an extreme religious military group.When soldiers burst into her home and drag her father off to prison, Parvana is forced to take responsibility for her whole family, dressing as a boy to make a living in the marketplace of Kabul, risking her life in the dangerous and volatile city.

GENRE: Realistic, Historic


  • Courage and Bravery
  • Discrimination
  • War
  • Education

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Extension material

undefinedDeborah Ellis has achieved international acclaim with her courageous and dramatic books that give Western readers a glimpse into the plight of children in developing countries. She has won the Governor General's Award, Sweden's Peter Pan Prize, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California's Middle East Book Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award.

A long-time feminist and anti-war activist, she is best known for The Parvana Trilogy, which has been published around the world in seventeen languages, with more than a million dollars in royalties donated to Street Kids International and to Women for Women, an organization that supports health and education projects in Afghanistan. In 2006, Deb was named to the Order of Ontario.

Questions for your circle

  • How did the rule of the Taliban change the lives of Paravana’s family?
  • Imagine that suddenly you were not allowed to go to school. How would you feel after the first day? After the first month? After a year? 
  • Parvana showed enormous bravery and courage to be 'turned into' a boy so she could continue her father's work to support her family. How do you think you would feel if this was you?
  • This book raises important issues about the status and rights of females. Talk about women’s status and rights today in Australia and examine the opportunities that are available to women and girls in relation to such things as education, work, marriage, children, movement in society, economic independence. How might you feel in a world in which women (or men) were denied these rights. How would they feel if they were denied the freedom to move around the world unless accompanied by a person of the opposite sex? 

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