The Library Bus cover

By Bahram Rahman & Gabrielle Grimard

The Library Bus

Author Bahram Rahman grew up in Afghanistan during years of civil war and the restrictive Taliban regime of 1996-2001. He wrote The Library Bus to tell new generations about the struggles of women who, like his own sister, were forbidden to learn.

It is still dark in Kabul, Afghanistan when the library bus rumbles out of the city. There are no bus seats—instead there are chairs and tables and shelves of books. And there are no passengers—instead there is Pari, who is nervously starting her first day as Mama’s library helper. Pari stands tall to hand out notebooks and pencils at the villages and the refugee camp, but she feels intimidated. The girls they visit are learning to write English from Mama. Pari can’t even read or write in Farsi yet. But next year she will go to school and learn all there is to know. And she is so lucky. Not long ago, Mama tells her, girls were not allowed to read at all.

Award-winning illustrator Gabrielle Grimard’s pensive and captivating art transports the reader to Afghanistan in the time after the Taliban’s first regime. Her rich landscapes and compelling characters celebrate literacy, ingenuity, and the strength of women and girls demanding a future for themselves.

Available In


Ages 5-8
ISBN: 978-1-77278-101-4
List Price: $22.95 CAD / $18.95 USD
Hardback with reinforced binding & with printed dust jacket
Trim Size: 9.00 x 10.00 inches / 22.86 x 25.4cm
Pages: 32

Publication date: November 24, 2020

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 32

Paperback / softback

Ages 5-8
ISBN: 978-1-77278-265-3
List Price: $14.95 CAD / $12.95 USD
Paperback / softback
Trim Size: 9.00 x 10.00 inches / 22.86 x 25.4cm
Pages: 32

Publication date: October 4, 2022

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 80

About this book

Awards and Honours

  • 2021 Governor General's Literary Award: Young People's Literature — Illustrated Books (Short-listed) (Canada)
  • 2022 FLA Children's Book Award (Short-listed) (United States)
  • 2021 Middle East Book Award Winner – Picture Book Category (Winner) (United States)
  • 2022 OLA Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award nominee (Nominated) (Canada)
  • 2020 Northern Lights Book Award: Multicultural Category (Winner) (United States)
  • 2021 South Asian Book Awards Highly Commended Books (Short-listed)
  • 2022 RISE: A Feminist Project (Short-listed) (United States)


Praise for The Library Bus

2021 Governor General’s Literary Award: Young People’s Literature — Illustrated Books Finalist

2022 FLA Children’s Book Award Finalist

2021 Middle East Book Award Winner – Picture Book Category

2022 OLA Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award nominee

2020 Northern Lights Book Award: Multicultural Category Winner

2021 South Asian Book Awards Highly Commended Books Pick

2022 RISE: A Feminist Project List Selection

2022 “Mrs. Laura Bush’s Summer Reading List for Kids” Selection

2021 CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection

2021 New York Public Library “Books About Bookmobiles and Mobile Libraries” selection

2021 Open Book feature “”There is Something Universal in How Children Connect with Stories” Bahram Rahman on Literacy, Equality, & Collective Memory”

2022 Five Books feature “The Best Books about Libraries for 4-8 Year Olds recommended by Bahram Rahman”

★ STARRED REVIEW “The conversational text is great for one-on-one sharing, but this will also come in handy at story times, for a celebration of reading, and for a glimpse of Afghani culture.”—School Library Journal Starred Review

“In a story inspired by the first library bus in Kabul, Afghanistan, where Rahman grew up during the civil war, it brings books to girls in remote villages and refugee camps who have no other access to education.”—The New York Times

“The girls’ individualized faces and emotions will establish a bond with children everywhere as Rahman celebrates the brave and resourceful Afghani women teachers from his childhood who found creative ways to educate girls.”—Booklist

“An inspiring story that conveys the power of education—paying it forward and meeting avid readers where they are.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The reassuring watercolor and digital illustrations help convey Rahman’s assertion that ‘when you are born in war, you are truly unaware of the alternative, peace. War is your normal.’”—The Horn Book Guide

“Bahram Rahman, who worked as a gender equality activist in Afghanistan, delicately portrays in his first picture book the continued effects of the Taliban’s prohibition on female education….Closed with an author’s note sharing his connection to the story, The Library Bus extols the soaring spirit of those who value learning.”—Shelf Awareness

“Bahram Rahman’s The Library Bus is inspired by growing up in Afghanistan and by the children he met during visits to orphanages and camps in Kabul….Gabrielle Grimard’s characteristically warm style and her animated representation of Pari and the other children beautifully brings to life the vitality and potential of the girls in the book.”—Quill & Quire

“Although the book deals with heavy and complex themes, there is still a lightness to the story that attracts and engages young readers….The illustrations by Gabrielle Grimard are equally appealing and capture Rahman’s tone and the power of books and education, while celebrating the bond between mother and daughter.”—Asian Review of Books

“The story is simple and heartwarming and underscores the importance of literacy and schooling for girls and gently points to the political challenges—repressive regimes, poverty, refugee camps—that preclude education for young girls.”—The International Examiner

The Library Bus reminds us what a luxury it is to learn to read….Award-winning illustrator Gabrielle Grimard brings this story to life with water-colour paintings of the refugee camps, villages, and the little children who live there.”—Montreal Review of Books

“Drawing upon very real conditions confronting Afghanistan girls wanting an education, The Library Bus by the collaborative team of author/storyteller Bahram Rahman and artist/illustrator Gabrielle Grimard is an extraordinary, original, thoroughly ‘kid friendly’, and highly recommended addition to family, elementary school, and community library picture book collections.”—Midwest Book Review

The Library Bus is a gentle day-in-the-life book that introduces readers to a beautiful country. Highly Recommended.”—CM Magazine

“Inspired by the first Library Bus to operate in Kabul, Bahram Rahman…has written The Library Bus to show how important it is for girls to be allowed to go to school….Gabrielle Grimard’s pictures wrap around whole pages with watercolour and digital abandon.”—Winnipeg Free Press

“This nicely illustrated picture book looks at the importance of education for everyone. At the end of the book the author writes about what it was like growing up in Afghanistan.”—Postmedia

The Library Bus by Bahram Rahman is a picture book, a gently told story of Pari and her mother who operates a library bus in Afghanistan….A great read to discuss the plight of refugees with young children.”—The International Educator

“This is a beautiful testimony to ensuring a love of literacy and instilling it in all who desire it. The illustrations further engage readers as the land and people being described are vividly depicted throughout the story.”—YA Books Central

“This book was so accessible for both my kids and gave them such a rich introduction to the country of Afghanistan.”Kids Read the World

“What a beautiful window into the lives of children in remote Afghanistan towns and refugee camps and the selfless service of those providing an opportunity for a brighter future.”—jmebills

“This is such a poignant and touching story and truth. It celebrates literacy, resourcefulness, and women striving for a better future while shedding light on past generations struggles and injustice. The illustrations are absolutely stunning with rich earth tones depicting this heroic mother/daughter duo and their journey to sharing love and education.”—Little Book Worm Club

“[A] beautiful love letter to the women of Afghanistan and their creativity in ensuring they receive an education…When we exist in our own little bubbles we can forget there is a huge world out there and many different people with vastly different experiences.”—Storytime with Stephanie

“This…would be a great book to use in classrooms to give students a different perspective of school. It can help children recognize that going to school is a privilege and something that we should not take for granted.”—Mr. Alex’s Bookshelf

“The captivating watercolor and digital media artwork portrays…the rich landscape of Afghanistan, and the power of education. Included are notes about refugee camps and the author’s experiences in Kabul.”—OmniLibros

“When war is all you know, that is your normal. Lack of access to education did not stop women like Pari’s mama to help the girls…. Such an amazing story of hope and resilience and the power of everyday female heroines.”—The Colorful Muse

“Mama tells Pari she will be going to school soon and never stop learning because learning makes you Free. The book ends with a personal message from the Author about his life in Afghanistan and the memories he shared.”—Homeschoolingabhi

“The Library Bus is uplifting. It shows joy in times of struggle…[Bahram Rahman] emphasizes the strength and determination of Afghan girls to pursue education…I can’t forget to mention the absolutely gorgeous illustrations.”—@raisingalegacybookshelf

Look inside gallery

Additional Resources

Teaching Guide

Back to top