The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

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The life Kamila Sidiqi had known changed overnight when the Taliban seized control of the city of Kabul. After receiving a teaching degree during the civil war—a rare achievement for any Afghan woman—Kamila was subsequently banned from school and confined to her home. When her father and brother were forced to flee the city, Kamila became the sole breadwinner for her five siblings. Armed only with grit and determination, she picked up a needle and thread and created a thriving business of her own.

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana tells the incredible true story of this unlikely entrepreneur who mobilized her community under the Taliban. Former ABC News reporter Gayle Tzemach Lemmon spent years on the ground reporting Kamila's story, and the result is an unusually intimate and unsanitized look at the daily lives of women in Afghanistan.

In this advance excerpt of chapter seven, available only in e-book format, readers are immersed in the Sidiqi household as they watch Kamila and her sisters work around the clock to sew dresses for a wedding. When the bride and her wedding party return to pick up their gowns, the sisters make an astonishing discovery. Purchase today to get an exclusive look at what Greg Mortensen, author of Three Cups of Tea, has called, "One of the most inspiring books I have ever read."

Curriculet Details
29 Questions
35 Annotations
3 Quizzes

In this 11th and 12th grade digital curriculum, annotations include links to current event articles that describe events referenced in the book, images of the setting, and explanations of literary devices such as imagery and tone. Interactive videos support engagement and cover subjects such as foreshadowing. The Common Core aligned questions and answers address author's purpose and character development, along with the themes of courage and resilience. Our free online unit will increase student engagement with rich media annotations while supporting reading comprehension with questions and quizzes that are imbedded directly into the book.

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The setting of this non-fiction text is Afghanistan. As you read, keep in mind that while the author changed the names of some of the characters to protect their privacy, the story is true.  (This annotation contains an image)
The image below shows two Afghan women wearing the Burqa, a piece of clothing that the Taliban mandated Afghan women wear to cover themselves. Why would this outfit make outsiders feel like Afghan women were prisoners? (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 1

Use the "Define" feature in Curriculet to look up words that you don't know while reading. Simply highlight a word with your cursor, and click Define. 
A direct result of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan was 
The image below shows a group of Taliban holding several different weapons. In what way does this image contribute to the anxious mood of the passage?  (This annotation contains an image)
What does the Taliban's clothing restrictions on women reveal about their attitudes towards women's rights? 
"Chadri" is another name for the burqa. The image below shows a group of women wearing this garment. Why does Malika feel like she cannot leave the house without a chadri on?  (This annotation contains an image)
According to the text, one way that the Taliban exhibited control of Afghan women was through the use of 
Watch the video below to learn more about how to answer questions using text-based evidence. Then, answer the question that follows in the next paragraph.  (This annotation contains a video)
Think about how the author uses foreshadowing in this sentence to alert readers to what is going to happen throughout the novel.  

Chapter 2

What does Mr. Sidiqi mean when he says, "I look on all of you with one eye"? 
Despite the bleak situation, the author describes the girls as being very optimistic. Think about how the author uses specific details to show that the young women were optimistic despite their situation. 
What was one result of the Taliban entering Kabul? 
This is an image of naan bread. Naan is a staple of many people's diets in this part of the world. (This annotation contains an image)

Chapter 3

To read more of the poems of Divan of Hafiz, visit the link below.  (This annotation contains a link)
Which of the following best describes the Taliban's ideas in regards to music and dance? 
Why did Kamila need to find a job that was at home and behind closed doors? 
A mahram is a chaperone who is not marriageable to the person they are chaperoning. Women were required to be accompanied by a mahram at all times by the Taliban. 
What makes sewing an ideal job for Malika? 
Think about what the implications were for Kamila if she was stopped. Why would she risk these implications? What does this reveal about her economic situation at home? 

Chapter 4

What did Najeeb's departure mean for Kamila? 
Pay attention to how the author juxtaposes life before the Taliban to life now through the use of imagery in the highlighted passage. In what major way has Kamila's life changed since the Taliban arrived? 
The question below will ask you to identify Kamila's tone. Watch the video below to learn more about how to identify tone and mood in a passage.  (This annotation contains a video)
Kamila's tone is ________. 
Think about the implications that ruining an order would have on the fledgling business. Despite the risk, the sisters are eager to jump in and start sewing. What does this detail reveal about the sisters and their determination?  
Why did the schools not have enough teachers on staff? 
Imagine that the Taliban had found out about this business exchange. What do you think their reaction would be? 
Quiz 1 

Chapter 5

The image below shows a foot powered sewing machine that might be similar to the one that Kamila and her sisters were using. Think about how the lack of electricity impacted the young women and their emerging business. (This annotation contains an image)
The evidence in this chapter indicates that Malika's business is ______________. 
The image below shows an actual dress made by Kamila and her sisters. Observe the intricate beading. Notice that the text states the sisters sew this beading by hand. Think about what this attention to detail reveals about the sisters and their character.  (This annotation contains an image)
How does this expression of hospitality contrast with the state of Afghanistan under the Taliban? 
Kamila is eager to  

Chapter 6

A bazaar is an outdoor market area where many different types of vendors sell their goods. The image below shows a bazaar that is probably similar to the one described in this section. Think about why Rahim would go here to do business for the sisters.  (This annotation contains an image)
The events described in the highlighted section are the result of  
"Grapevine" is a term used to describe how gossip or news spreads in informal ways. Without formal advertising, the women are able to spread the news that they are opening a school for other women to learn how to sew.  
The Q'uran is the holy book for the religion Islam. Given the Taliban's feelings about women being educated, do you think that they would allow women to read the Q'uran? 
What evidence suggests that it would be too risky for Mahnaz to enroll in an English course? 
The sisters started the business to  

Chapter 7

The state of Malika's twin babies illustrates a problem with the condition of Afghanistan's medical services under the Taliban. As you read, pay close attention to how the medical system changed with the Taliban in power and notice the impact this has on Afghan citizens. 
What does Malika's health indicate about the amount she has been working? 
Malika's response indicates that she 
The image below shows women wearing traditional Afghan wedding gowns. Think about why Malika is apprehensive about the request she received.  (This annotation contains an image)
The purpose of this passage is to  
Pay attention to how the author uses diction to create a rushed and anxious tone in this passage.  
Quiz 2 

Chapter 8

Kamila is developing in many different ways throughout the novel. Watch the video below to learn more about how and why authors illustrate that a character is developing. Then answer the question in the next paragraph about Kamila.  (This annotation contains a video)
What does Kamila's response reveal about her character strengths? 
In the highlighted section the author contrasts the style of girls from the outskirts of Afghanistan to the girls who are living in the capital city of Kabul. According to the author, girls in Kabul are more stylish. Is this typical of people in all major cities around the world? 
The purpose of the highlighted passage is  
The fact that Kamila's tea has grown cold illustrates that she has been too focused on the conversation to drink her tea. This small detail illustrates that Kamila is deeply interested in what her guest is saying.  
This detail reveals that her sister is 
Malika's concerns are valid. The Taliban wee ruthless in their punishment of people who opposed their regime or failed to follow their rules. It was not uncommon for people to be publically executed for crimes against the regime. To learn more about the Taliban and to better understand Malika's concerns, visit the link below.  (This annotation contains a link)
Why is Kamila's new job so risky? 

Chapter 9

The map below shows the location of Peshawar. Notice that Peshawar is in Pakistan, the country adjoining Afghanistan. (This annotation contains an image)
In what ways has Kamila changed in the four years since she began her business? 
The soldier questions Kamila's _________. 
Recall that a mahram is a chaperone that all women are required to travel with. Think about why the author chooses to include this detail in the book. How does this event add to the idea that Kamila is working under extremely dangerous conditions? 
Mrs. Sidiqi's reaction indicates that the news she is hearing is _____________. 
To learn more about the implications of the death of Massoud, click on the link below. After you read the article, think about how the reactions of the characters in the novel fit the seriousness of the events that occurred.  (This annotation contains a link)
The phrase "sorrowfully familiar" indicates that the girls are _________. 
Visit the link below for an interactive timeline view of the war in Afghanistan. The timeline illustrates how the United States became involved in Afghanistan and provides both a historical and current view of the conflict.  (This annotation contains a link)


How did many of Afghanistan's women react to the Taliban leaving? 
Pay attention to how the author describes the changes Kamila undergoes from a seamstress to an ambitious member of the international community.  
Watch the trailor to the documentary "Half the Sky" and think about how the documentary compares to the message of this novel. What does the documentary and the novel have in common when it comes to educating women?  (This annotation contains a video)
To learn more about the plight of women seeking education in Taliban- controlled regions, watch the video below about Malala Yousafzai and her courageous fight to ensure that all young women gain access to education.  (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz #3