If you’re looking for a family read-aloud, especially for your elementary and middle school set, have I got a book for you!

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As part of Bookworm’s BookShark Eastern Hemisphere Level 5 studies, we recently read Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins.  What a sweet little book!


This book is set in Bangladesh and tells the story of Naima, a young girl who is quite skilled at creating alpana patterns that women and girls paint on their homes for special occasions.  The year before, she won the village prize for creating the best alpana pattern–a paper and paint set.

While Naima loves creating alpanas, she is frustrated that she can’t help her family earn money because she is a girl.  In fact, the family consists of two daughters, so there are no children to help earn money.  The family is not well off, and her father has to work long hours as a rickshaw driver.  To try to earn more money, her mother and father have taken out a loan to buy a nice rickshaw, and they’re feeling pressure to pay the loan back.

When her father is home taking an afternoon rest to escape the heat, Naima decides to try out the rickshaw herself.  Maybe if she disguises herself as a boy, she’ll be able to take a few passengers on the rickshaw herself.  However, Naima’s hopes are quickly dashed when she finds the rickshaw difficult to control and crashes, causing significant damage to the rickshaw!

Naima is heartbroken, and the reader feels her pain and shame.  She so wants to help her family, but she can’t because she’s a boy.

Yet, against all odds, Naima does finds a way to help her family.

This sweet story can empower girls and teaches the lesson that a family does best when they work together.  Younger kids will like it because it’s easy to understand, short (only 89 pages), and filled with pictures.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.