Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 6 to 8
- Grade: 1 to 3
- Reading age: 6 to 8
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.
About the authors
Rina Singh has published several critically acclaimed books for children inspired by her Indian Canadian heritage, including Diwali Lights, Holi Colors and Diwali: A Festival of Lights, which was nominated for the Red Cedar Award. Rina’s own grandmother never got the chance to go to school. Grandmother School is dedicated to her memory. Rina lives in Toronto with her family.
Ellen Rooney is an award-winning designer, artist and children’s book illustrator. Her textural mixed media artwork combines many traditional art techniques, like pencil drawing, painting, printmaking and collage, often combined with digital techniques. She is the winner of the 2021 Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize for Grandmother School. Originally from Massachusetts, she now lives in the southern Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.
- Nominated, Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice Awards - Shining Willow
- Short-listed, The Egghead - The Doug Wright Award for best kids’ book
- Winner, BC and Yukon Book Prizes - Christie Harris Illustrated Children's Literature Prize
- Short-listed, Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award
- Commended, Ontario Library association (OLA) Best Bets
- Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection
“Joy is evident on the page—and infectious...A spirited book about gender, age, rights, and the importance of education.”
“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
“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
"The connection between the little girl and the grandmother is the touching heart of this story."
Canadian Children's Book News
“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.”
“A wonderful and poignant story about the need for literacy and how vital learning to read is.”
The Globe and Mail
Other titles by Rina Singh
The Lion Queen
Rasila Vadher, the First Woman Guardian of the Last Asiatic Lions
Imagine a Garden
Stories of Courage Changing the World
Once, a Bird
Il était une fois un oiseau
My Heart Beats
How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girl