A young Afghani amputee matter-of-factly removes her own barrier to education, building a bench from discarded wood so that she and her “helper-leg” can sit through school in comfort. The resilience and resolve of young children, especially young girls like Aria, is beautifully depicted and totally relatable even to readers with a very different school experience. Author’s note introduces age-appropriate discussion of landmines and their impact on children in many nations.


  • Short-listed, The New York Times “What to Read: Four Children’s Books” 2021
  • Short-listed, Quill & Quire “2021 Best of Fall guide: Kids’ books” 2021
  • Winner, ALA Schneider Family Book Award Honor Book 2022
  • Winner, Foreword Reviews Book of The Day (Nov 3rd) 2021
  • Short-listed, Kirkus Reviews “Best Books of 2021 Celebrating Community” 2021
  • Short-listed, 49th Shelf Top Grade Winter List 2022
  • Nominated, Indiana Young Hoosier Award Consideration List 2023
  • Short-listed, Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist 2021
  • Short-listed, Harvard Book Store “New This Week: Kids & Young Adult” 2021
  • Commended, CCBC Spring Best Books for Kids & Teens 2022


Praise for A Sky-Blue Bench

2022 ALA Schneider Family Book Award Honor Book Winner

2023 Indiana Young Hoosier Award Nominee

2022 Middle East Book Award Honor Book

2023 OLA Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award Nominee

2023 Rise: A Feminist Book Project Honor Book

2021 The New York Times “What to Read: Four Children’s Books” selection

2021 Kirkus Reviews ‘Best Books of 2021 Celebrating Community’ selection

2021 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist

2021 Foreword Reviews Book of The Day (Nov 3rd)

2022 Chicago Public Library "Disability Awareness Month Books for Kids" Feature 

2023 IBBY Canada “IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities”selection

2021 Harvard Book Store “New This Week: Kids & Young Adult” selection

2021 Quill & Quire “2021 Best of Fall guide: Kids’ books” selection

2022 49th Shelf Top Grade Winter List Selection

2021 49th Shelf “Books for Back to School” selection

2022 49th Shelf “Books that Inspire Students to Overcome Adversity” selection

2022 CCBC Spring Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection

2023 Teachers on Call “Hooked on Books with Forest of Reading Nominee” Feature 

★ STARRED REVIEW “A timely, eye-opening portrait of resilience, community, and hope.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Together with her mother and brother, Aria decides to build a bench herself, painting it skyblue: the color of “courage, peace and wisdom.”—Foreword Reviews

★ STARRED REVIEW “This is a touching and timely book that portrays the hardships many children in Afghanistan and other war-torn countries face. The author illustrates this beautifully and adds an informative and heartfelt “Author’s Note” that’ll leave a notable impression on young readers.”—Seattle Book Review

“[A] heartwarming story about a resilient young girl who faces a barrier to her education.”—Quill & Quire

“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…”—CBC Books

“[A] poignant story recognizing the resilience and determination of young children, particularly girls, living in war-torn countries…. Aria’s courage, in the face of adversity, will resonate with children, no matter what their background, as will the significance of the colour blue, a symbol of hope.”—Canadian Children’s Book News

“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

“A Sky-Blue Bench shares a valuable lesson of resilience and that children, specifically girls, can do anything that they put their minds to.”—Metroland Toronto

“[A] beautiful story of resilience and determination.”—My Journal-Courier

“The narrative was powerful and impactful and drew specifically on some experiences the author had growing up in Afghanistan. There is an authors note with terms that I think will be helpful to parents/caregivers if they read this will children.”—Bookishrealm, Goodreads

“[An] inspiring story of resilience, determination, and grit.”—Little Bookworm Club

“Peggy Collins fills her spreads…with digital artwork that reveals the emotions felt, the support of community, and the determination of a child to make a difference for herself and others…”—Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“Beautiful story, beautiful lessons and beautiful illustrations…”—Book Time

“I genuinely enjoyed the illustrations and little Aria finding a way to make a bench so she could sit comfortably at school with her prosthetic leg.”—Kirin, Goodreads

“I love her determination and ingenuity. The illustrations are colorful, and the text is easy for elementary students to read and understand.”—Israa, Goodreads

“Readers will see the importance of accessible spaces for everyone….The story is an example of strength and self-advocating.”—Storytime with Stephanie

A Sky-Blue Bench may be a story from Afghanistan but its lessons about self-reliance and resourcefulness will speak to all children, especially those facing their own challenges, and encourage them to find solutions.”—CanLit for Little Canadians

“[T]he challenges that Aria faces as an amputee are shown honestly, her emotions and struggles depicted realistically but not in a way that showed her as helpless… She had agency and voice. More of this representation please.”—@alissareadsabook

“A heartbreaking and heartwarming story all at once.” The International Educator

“I love books where kids take charge…I loved the message of perseverance and hope.”—Mrs. Book Dragon

“This book just clutched at my heart…Based partially on the experiences of the author, it inspires hope in the reader that children can come up with creative solutions, even when adults might not see any… A beautiful book and one that is definitely empowering and inspiring for all readers!”—@muslimmommyblog

“It’s crucial to have books like [A Sky-Blue Bench] on every bookshelf…The message that girls can do it all was loud and proud in this beautiful story… The illustrations are also vibrant and easily show Aria’s determination, hope and resilience.”—@raisingreaderstobecomeleaders

“Rahman has written a compelling narrative, accessible to children, which tackles difficult concepts…His writing is a gift to parents and educators…I appreciate Aria's determination, creativity, and grit as she overcomes the obstacles in her path. She is a role model for young girls.”—@kidsreadtheworld

“There is a lot of joy to be found in this book….Together, Rahman and Collins take a heavy subject and not only make it age appropriate for the cohort, but weave a story that will be requested again and again.”—Mr. Alex’s Bookshelf