Sky-Blue Bench book cover

Sky-Blue Bench

It's Afghan schoolgirl Aria's first day back at school since her accident. She's excited, but she's also worried about sitting on the hard floor all day with her new prothetic "helper-leg". Just as Aria feared, sitting on the floor is so uncomfortable that she can’t think about learning at all. She knows that before the war changed many things in Afghanistan, schools like hers had benches for students to sit at. If she had a bench, her leg would not hurt so much. The answer is obvious: she will gather materials, talk to Kaka Najar, the carpenter in the old city, and learn to build a bench for herself.

In A Sky-Blue Bench, Bahram Rahman of The School Bus, returns again to the setting of his homeland, Afghanistan, to reveal the resilience and resolve of young children—especially young girls—who face barriers to education. Illustrator Peggy Collins imbues Aria with an infectious spunkiness and grit that make her relatable even to readers with a very different school experience. An author’s note gently introduces an age-appropriate discussion of landmines and their impact on the lives of children in many nations, especially Afghanistan, which has the highest concentration of landmines of any country in the world.

Ideal for:
International Day of Peace Sept. 21, Human Rights Day Dec.10, International Day of Education Jan. 24, International Women's Day and United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace March 8, World Refugee Day June 20, Canadian Multiculturalism Day June 27.

Sky-Blue Bench. Text © 2021 Baharam Rahman Illustrations © 2021 Peggy Collins. Reproduced by permission of Pajama Press, Toronto.

[A] heartwarming story about a resilient young girl who faces a barrier to her education.


How beautiful and heart-breaking to read this lovely picture book about a young girl…who finds a way to be comfortable at school by building her own bench. The ingenuity and determination of Afghani women and girls is explored…”

Youth Services Book Review

Book Creators

Bahram Rahman

Bahram Rahman portrait

Bahram Rahman was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and grew up during the civil war and the Taliban regime. He earned a medical degree at Kabul Medical University and a master’s degree in public policy at the University of Erfurt, Germany, while also working as an activist in Afghanistan in the areas of gender equality and youth political participation. Bahram came to Canada as a refugee in 2012, and today he is a senior policy advisor at the Ministry of Health in Ontario. He wrote The Library Bus, his first picture book, to document the struggle for education experienced by the women in his own family and to draw attention to the barriers that still exist for millions of children, especially girls, living in war torn countries today.

Peggy Collins

Peggy Collins portrait

Peggy Collins is a momma, artist, creator, writer, and college professor. She creates multimedia work for books, animation and mostly just for fun. She has books translated into Chinese, Inuktitut, french and English and works with publishers all over the world. She loves to share stories, meet new people and explore new places.