Groundwood Books Imprint Logo

The Breadwinner

Written by Deborah Ellis

Series Title: Breadwinner Series

  • 176 Pages
  • 9781554980079
  • Reading age from 10 to 14
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Girls & Women
  • JUVENILE FICTION / People & Places / Middle East
  • JUVENILE FICTION / Social Situations / Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance



Publication Date September 01, 2000

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

The first book in Deborah Ellis’s riveting Breadwinner series is an award-winning novel about loyalty, survival, families and friendship under extraordinary circumstances during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.

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 fifteenth anniversary edition includes a special foreword by Deborah Ellis as well as a new map, an updated author’s note and a glossary to provide young readers with background and context. All royalties from the sale of this book will go to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. Parvana’s Fund supports education projects for Afghan women and children.

Winner of the Baia delle Favole Prize for ages 9-12 2003

Winner of the Hackmatack Award 2003

Winner of the Middle East Book Award 2002

Winner of the Swedish Peter Pan Prize 2003

Long-listed for the OLA Golden Oak Award 2003

Long-listed for the OLA Red Maple Award 2001

Selected for the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Award 2003

Short-listed for the Rocky Mountain Book Award 2003

Long-listed for the SYRCA Diamond Willow Award 2003

Selected for the YALSA PPYA 2003

Long-listed for the Young Jury Awards 2004


Deborah Ellis
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 Middle East Book Award, Sweden’s Peter Pan Prize, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work. She recently received the Ontario Library Association’s President’s Award for Exceptional Achievement, and she has been named to the Order of Ontario.


"A great kids' book...a graphic geopolitical brief that's also a girl-power parable." Newsweek

"[The books in the Breadwinner trilogy] are terrifying indictments of what war can bring to children and a powerful testaments to the ingenuity and strength of young people in times of terror." Book Links

"This is an important and compelling story for young people..." Today's Librarian

"...hands-down, Newberry Medal worthy...This was a fantastic read." Washington Times

"...a book...about the hard times - and the courage - of Afghan children." Washington Post

" exceptional story that enlightens the reader about circumstances beyond comprehension and helps students understand that all of us in this global community share the same hopes, dreams, and fears." Resource Links