The Breadwinner by Deborah EllisThe Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

The Breadwinner

byDeborah Ellis

Paperback | September 1, 2000

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"All girls [should read] The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis." - Malala Yousafzai, New York Times

Over two million copies of The Breadwinner Trilogy sold worldwide

Eleven-year-old Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital city. Parvana's father -- a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed -- works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested for the crime of having a foreign education, and the family is left without someone who can earn money or even shop for food.

As conditions for the family grow desperate, only one solution emerges. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy, and become the breadwinner.

The Breadwinner is a novel about loyalty, survival, families and friendship under extraordinary circumstances. A map, glossary and author's note provide young readers with background and context. All royalties from the sale of this book will go to Women for Women, an organization that supports health and education projects in Afghanistan.

Deborah Ellis is best known for her Breadwinner books - a series that has been published in twenty-five languages, with more than $1 million in royalties donated to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Street Kids International. She has won the Governor General's Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California's Mid...
Title:The BreadwinnerFormat:PaperbackDimensions:176 pages, 7.5 × 5.06 × 1.27 inPublished:September 1, 2000Publisher:Groundwood Books LtdLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0888994168

ISBN - 13:9780888994165

Appropriate for ages: 10


Rated 4 out of 5 by from A lovely story A wonderful story of courage that should be shared with all women.
Date published: 2017-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this story I think every young woman should read this story. It was an amazing story of courage and determination. I can't wait to read the books that finish Parvana's story.
Date published: 2017-09-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good The book is interesting, takes us to Afghanistan
Date published: 2017-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book was very emotional In school, our grade 4 teacher read this to us and I was really intrigued by the authors details in the story which collide along with the tearful, and enjoyable moments. This book really makes you feel the same emotions as the characters along the journey.
Date published: 2017-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read This is the first in a trilogy, that should be read by kids and adults. Gently yet empowering and informative.
Date published: 2017-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great children's book I read this book as a child and I loved it! It's amazing how Deborah Ellis teaches kids so much through her books. I remember this was one that really made me realize how good we have it here in Canada. Lovely story though, and very well written!
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A classic tale for young and old I first read this book many moons ago as a student when it was first published. I immediately fell in love with Parvana, her family, and her story. Now, as a teacher, I use this book with my own students in their social justice unit. The Breadwinner is an eye-opening journey into a world of inequality, injustice, sacrifice, sorrow, and the meaning of family and friendships. I've yet to meet a student who has not loved this tale; many parents have responded positively to their children reading this book in my class as it helps to start meaningful discussions at home about human rights, women's rights, war, and a variety of other issues. In my opinion, this is an absolute must-read for young and old.
Date published: 2017-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't put this book down! I read this book for a class assignment and it was a book I couldn't put down! I thought it was educational learning about how a different culture has experienced life. I felt the characters are intriguing too. After reading this book, I purchased the whole series the next day. I would say though that this one is the best of the four and they do go downhill from here unfortunately.
Date published: 2017-03-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great story! This was a great way for children to learn some of the issues in other countries.
Date published: 2017-02-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good I remember the teacher reading this to us when we were kids. Never understood much about the issues surrounding the young character but as I am now older, I have a better understanding of the rough times
Date published: 2016-12-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing This book is amazing! I love it so much! I recomend it to anyone who likes sadness, happiness,+love.
Date published: 2015-10-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I liked it It helped me understand my ELA reading group book
Date published: 2013-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spectacular This book helps us know about the types of crisis taking place in Afghanistan. We see things on the news but they often ignore the reality of life for Afghan children. This book is filled with drama, action and suspense. The ending is ambiguous but it motived me to read the other books in the series. It also made for an interesting discussion with other readers. The book is violent and depressing at times but Parvana, the main character, always finds her way out of the problem. She is brave and helpful to her family, and her courage is what makes you like her. You never know what will happen next. Every happy moment for Parvana is soon interrupted by something bad happening. In the end though, the author left us with hope for Parvana, and Afghanistan.
Date published: 2011-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Winner!! The Breadwinner is a well-written novel got anyone who wants to learn about life in Afgamistan under the Taliban or world issues. At times the story is severe. The Breadwinner takes place in Kabul, the capial of Afganistan during the Taliban's rule before the events of September 11th. The main character is 11 year-old Parvana who struggles to survive with her mom, father, sisters Nooria and Miriam and her younger brother Ali, in a tiny one-rrom apartment. The children are not allowed to attend school. Taliban law also forbids women to leave their home unless they wear the traditional burqa and are chaperoned by a male relative. Parvana becomes the family's sole means of support--its breadwinner. It's Parvana's bravery, resourcefulness and independence helps him survive. The Breadwinner is a serious novel for children. Anyone who wants to read a fictionalized account of life in a war zone should read this pick. Also, enjoy the recent publication Breadwinner Trilogy which allows young readers to have all three Parvana novels together for a complete series to read! By: Jan P.
Date published: 2009-09-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from OK Read This story is about a girl named Parvana. She is in Grade 6. It takes place in Afghanistan, in present time after the Taliban take over. The story begins in a market in Kabul where Parvana and her father are working. At the beginning of the story, the Taliban kidnap Parvana's father. Parvana dresses up as a boy and goes and works in the market to make money to buy her family food. Mrs. Weera, a friend of Mother's, moves in to help with the family and begins a secret school. Parvana's older sister gets married and the family moves to Mazar. Parvana stays home, waiting for Father to return, and continues to work in the market with her friend Shauzia. In the end, Father returns and they both begin the trip up to Mazar to rescue their family from the Taliban, who has recently taken over that area. I liked how the author explained about all the things that were going on in Afghanistan. She wrote about each event in good detail. I felt that the story moved slowly sometimes; I would have liked a bit more action in the story. I would have liked to have known how the story ended. For instance, I wanted to learn what happened to Shauzia when she tried to go to France. I also wanted to know what happened to Mother, Nooria, Maryam, and Ali when the Taliban took over Mazar.
Date published: 2009-07-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Breadwinner The main character of The Breadwinner is Parvana. Parvana has 4 siblings. Hossain the oldest child had been kiled by a land mine when he was 14 years old, next is Nooria , Maryam and the youngest is Ali. Both Parvana's parents are educated, her father was a teacher and his leg got bombed by the Taliban and has stopeed teaching since the school he worked in has been bombed too. Can u imagine if all of a sudden all girls wouldn't be able to go to school ? Would you be happy or sad, well at first Parvana thought that the Taliban would let them go back to school in a period of time and thought of it as a vacation. How about if you, a girl couldn't go outside becasue it is too dangerous well this is how it is in Kalbul and if u want to find out how Parvana finds her way to going outside read The Breadwinner. If I were u I would try to read this book . By:Vivian H.
Date published: 2008-05-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An amazing story Imagine you were a girl living in Afghanistan. You go to school, you have many friends and you always go outside and play. But one day, the Taliban take over. You are suddenly forbidden to go to school, play with your friends and even go outside. If you do go outside, you must have a man with you and you have to wear a burqa, that covers every part of your body, including your eyes. Imagine having bombs as a normal part of your daily life. That it was perfectly normal to see someone on the street explode because they stepped on a land mine. Would you want to live this kind of life? Would you want to wake up in the morning thinking that today could be the last day of your life? Well this is life in Afghanistan and Deborah Ellis' "Breadwinner" uses a fictional character named Parvana to tell this horrifying story. In my opinion, I think this book was amazing. It was so real, you actually felt like you were in that situation. But the scary part is that it is real and about half the world away, many Afghanistan women will have the same story to tell. This book was not only exciting but it also sent an important message out to the world. That this book is not fiction, there are actually people out there living in this terrifying nightmare.
Date published: 2008-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Asome book This is a really good book.
Date published: 2008-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from awesome Excellent book for anyone over 11 years old! A wonderful tale of a girl in Afghanistan that has to dress as a boy to help her family survive.
Date published: 2008-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from breadwinner i really engoyed this book and would like to know about other books like this one by the same authour please reply to this my email is
Date published: 2007-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from fantastic!!!! this book captured me and i couldn't put it down! I recommend this book and parvana's journey and mud city to everyone! I loved this book but i personaly liked Parvana's journey the best out of all 3. BUT YET AGAIN TRULY AMAZING READ!!
Date published: 2007-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating! No other book I have read has so thoroughly described the horrific and unimaginable conditions in war-torn Afghanistan.
Date published: 2007-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "An Irrisistable Read" I purchased this book and as soon as I got home I started it. I kept reading and couldn't stop the entire way through! A book about a girl named Parvana, and her town of Kabul, Afghanistan, during the reign of the Talib in which women are not alowed to leave there homes with out a male escort. She's got to disguise her self as a boy to make enough money to support her family. A fantastic book, frought with mixed emotions.
Date published: 2007-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful Story I read this novel when I was much younger and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Whenever anyone asked me what my favorite book was, without hesitation I would reply: "Breadwinner" by Deborah Ellis. It is a very compelling story about a young girl and her struggles. The eleven year- old protagonist, Parvana,is trapped inside her family's one bedroom home ever since the Taliban took over Afghanistan. Until one day, the Taliban captured her father and Parvana decided to disguise herself as a boy to become the breadwinner for the rest of her family. Even though her situation is very different from any hardships I had ever encountered, I found myself relating to Parvana and the adversities she had to face. This novel is easy to read and very interesting.I am not an avid reader but once I began to read it, I could not put it down. This book is also very appropriate to read concerning current world issues.
Date published: 2007-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! The Breadwinner is a about a young girl who lives in Afganistan. She must work to support her family. The story is descriptive and well written, I loved it! I recommend this book to anybody who want's to read a good story. I haven't read the other two books in the trilogy, but I'm sure they'll be just as good... or even better!
Date published: 2006-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "Splendid" Breadwinner is the story of a war-torn girl in a war-torn land. Parvana lives under the power of the Taliban in Afghanistan. She's been kicked out of school and her father has been taken to jail. The Taliban phrohibit women from going outside without a male escort. There are no males left in Parvana's family except for her baby brother. Who will work? Who will shop? Who will get water? Find out in this tremendous story, written by Deborah Ellis.
Date published: 2006-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from awesome book This is a great book! Read it!!
Date published: 2005-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just the starting! This is the first book of the best series I have ever read. Deborah Ellis is such an amazing author she knows how to word everything the way it should be worded. This book is one of the books that you can never put down. It's so true but yet how could you believe that that is happening to some one every minute and that they actually can live.
Date published: 2004-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from breadwinner is awsome i cant believe their is a country in the world that does not allow girls to go to school.also if women want to go outside they need a man to ecort them. i never new about that until i started reading the breadwinner . it just blew me away paravana is a very brave girl and i can totally relate to the arguements between her sister. plus i am 11 years old too. just read it, it's so awsome!!!
Date published: 2004-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from this book got it going on This book was one of the best books i have ever read.The book make u fells as if u were Parvana.Parvana has so much emotions going on in the book, and u can fell it. This book got it going on man....... U have to read it, I mean it!
Date published: 2003-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One Word Awesome I can't really describe how awsome The Breadwinner really was. I guess you'll just have to read it yourself... No wait the breadwinner was an awesome book. I read it and now I understand more about the Afganistan cultyre and history. Great book. It nade me proud that I was a canadian.
Date published: 2003-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Secret Last week I rented a book called Girls Own from the library which is a bunch of stories put together which is kind of like the chicken soup books but not as sappy. they're really interesting story which are about 10-20 pages long. One of the stories is the breadwinner. You get all the facts without all the bla-bla. Girls own features other stories like this about girls. But I read the breadwinner and it was amazing. I would read the whole book but girls own makes it so much easyer. Secret: Breadwinner is featured in girls own look it up in the search at the top of your screen. It makes it so much simpler. And for about the same price you get to read other extraordinary stories.
Date published: 2003-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 5 stars! I thought this book was amazing.Since Parvana was my age(11),I could relate to her really easily.It makes you feel how it would be like to be in a young Afghan girl's shoes.Also,I just recently met Deborah Ellis,and she is just as amazing as her books!( fans who loved The Breadwinner&Parvan's JOurney,there's going to be a 3rd book coming out fall 2003.Yay!)
Date published: 2003-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You'll fall in love with Parvana It's priceless and beautifully written. Parvana's a hero/ine. It's just sad that the oppression was real. Deborah Ellis is amazing! She's Canadian too!
Date published: 2003-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breadwinner I thought this book was excellent because it gives you lots of information. I also think it is an excellent book for 8-14 year olds. I would definitely recommend this book because the author, Deborah Ellis, gave detailed discriptions about life in Afghanistan. The glossary is a fantastic idea because it tells you what many of the words mean. I hope you like it!
Date published: 2003-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magnificence! The Breadwinner was a compelling novel. Deborah Ellis did a great job describing the harsh and cruel conditions that people in Afghanistan has to endure. Her character Parvana was very hopeful for her country, despite the fact that her family is stranded in a country where the educated are looked at as criminals. This is a book I'd strongly recommend.
Date published: 2002-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Awesome Book This book was amazing. I read it and passed it along to a friend who is reading it now. I find this book very good because it talks about everyday life in Afghanistan and I found it very sad. I couldn't put the book down. I recommend this book to anyone who loves to read as much as I do.
Date published: 2002-09-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Breadwinner I thought The Breadwinner was a great book. I would recommend The Breadwinner. It makes you happy when the characters are happy and sad when they're sad. I liked it when Parvana's father returned home. The Breadwinner is scary, exciting, and has lots of suspense. I lent The Breadwinner to my friend and she enjoyed it as much as I did.
Date published: 2002-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Book This book is great. It shows every day things happening in Afganistan when the Taliban was there from the eyes of and Afgani girl. Touching book.
Date published: 2002-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Cool girl This book was Excellent. I tought me alout about Afganistan that I didn't know. It also was a very sad book and violent, but it tells a great deal about what people are going through in Afganistan. The ending to this book was ok, because the author (Deborah Ellis) left you to end the book with your own thoughts and imagination. All in all this was a very good book but I would not recommend it to a youg child.
Date published: 2002-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Breadwinner I thought That this book was amazing! i read it for the Red Maple program for school and absalutly thought it was great! Therefore, I gave "the Breadwinner" a 5! I thought that this novel was very depressing and sad at some times. The woman and young girls had to cover themselves and their whole body. icould not imagine that! This is a very short and sweet novel. I felt fear and sympathy for Parvana because her father got taken away to prison... read this book and you will absulutly love it! If i was in Parvana's posistion and my father was taken to prison and wy sister off to get married and my rest oof my family went with her. i thought she would be very lonely! I really enjoyed this book and i hope you do as much as i did. This book really captured my heart.
Date published: 2001-03-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Touching and Magnificent This book really got to me in more ways than one. I myself, prefer horror and suspense, so at first galnce this book turned me off intrest. As I got reading it though, it pulled me in and didn't let go until the end. I was mesmerized and the facts were so accurite. While you read this book, which I highly reccommend you do, think of the fact that this is a true story for many of the people of Afganastan. Parvana's story reveals it all!
Date published: 2001-03-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from The Breadwinner I didn't really enjoy this book. it had no plot and no ending. Despite all that, it taught me a lot about Afganistan.
Date published: 2001-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Being Able To View The World In More Ways Than One I had heard of the problems in Afganistan before but I was younger and like most youngsters this problem did not affect me so I let it slide. When I read this book I was moved so much I was reduced to tears. I am a Women's Rights Supporter and things like this appaul me. This is an amazing book for teenage girls because it can show us the horrible things going on behind our sheltered lives. I think this book was incredible with all the facts it gave and raw details that made me shudder. It made me feel extremly angry when I read about what happened to the Afgan women and children. This book made me want to make a difference and I hope to one day be able to help those women end their struggle. This book has made me appreciate my life and my country a whole lot more. Our freedom here is something to be treasured. I hope more people will read this book and/or find out about this problem.
Date published: 2001-01-17

From Our Editors

In Afghanistan, women and girls cannot leave the house without the company of a male. They also must hide their entire bodies and faces, wrapped in shapeless garments and concealed behind veils. What do these human rights restrictions mean for the mothers, sisters and young girls who live under the oppressive regime of the Taliban? For Parvana, it means that her family cannot get enough to eat. After soldiers arrest her father, a history teacher reduced to reading letters for the illiterate in the marketplace, Parvana’s family has no choice but to starve in silence – unless they can find a male, a breadwinner. In Deborah Ellis’ powerful novel for teens, the resourceful Parvana finds a way to help her family by disguising herself as a boy. Experiencing for the first time the freedom of being male in her culture, Parvana also learns more about the terrible violations occurring every day in Kabul. The Breadwinner reveals the reality of life in a war-torn country, while also showing that children can make an incredible difference through small acts of courage.