Rain School – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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rainTitle: Rain School

Written and illustrated by James Rumford

Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010

Ages: 3-5

Themes: Tchad, Africa, school, rainy season

Opening Lines:

In the country of Chad it is the first day of school. The dry dirt road is filling up with children. Big brothers and big sisters are leading the way. 


It’s Thomas’ first day at school and he wonders what will happen. But when the chidlren arrive in the schoolyard, after a long walk, there’s no classroom to be found, not even a building. The first lesson will be to build the school!  The children, big and small, throw themselves into this first activity, learning new skills as they do. With sparse text, the author then details the simple but enthusiastic learning that fills the school year. At the end of nine months the storm clouds are gathering and the rainy season arrives. The rains and wind not only terminate the academic year, but they tear off the school roof and melt the mud walls, until almost nothing remains. As the dry season returns, Thomas, now one of the big boys, will rebuild and continue his education.

Why I like this book:

In a nation where very few children go to school, this story highlights the importance of school, the effort adults and children will go to for education and the ability to teach and learn with very few resources. It is a warm story and the scenes are all set against a warm, orange, sunny African backdrop, until the rain clouds threaten. Vibrant African illustrations welcome the reader into this little known central African country. This hunger to learn has been my own personal experience throughout east, west and southern Africa. James Rumford and his wife lived and taught in Tcahd as peace corps volunteers and the firsthand experience is evident in the illustrations and story. Another great multicultural text to add to your home or classroom.


Diane did a wonderful interview with Jim on her blog, Patient Dreamer.

Jim has a wonderful selection of activities related to this book at his website, www.jamesrumford.com. I urge you to check out his website for many other fabulous multicultural picture books.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

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23 Responses to Rain School – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. Janet Smart says:

    That sounds like a nice ‘circle’ story. Very interesting. thanks for the review.

  2. What an eye-opening story to share with kids who grumble about going to school — imagine having to BUILD your school before you could start taking lessons, and then watching it disintegrate before your eyes with the rains. Thanks, Joanna, for highlighting this fascinating sounding book!

  3. Wonderful review, Joanna! This is evident of James very unique style, and rich illustrations to tell the story. As you know, like you, I love multicultural books especially when they open the window on what little is known about. Thank you so much for quoting my interview with James, Joanna.

  4. A beautiful reminder that ‘first world problems’ pale in comparison to many struggles worldwide. I’ve read this book before but your post makes me want to run out and find it again!

  5. This is such a deeply moving book about determination of a teacher and her students hold school, even if they have to rebuild it. Such an important book to share. It should be in every classroom. Rumsford has written a powerful book.

  6. So many of us in North America take certain things/luxuries for granted that we sometimes forget how much harder people in different parts of the world have it. What a wonderful way to teach kids that not everyone has what we have here!

  7. A good reminder to be grateful for what we have. I think it would be a real eye opener for my students.

  8. I like the sound of the title, and the cover reminds me of children here in CO, who run for cover as soon as a drop falls! They are not used to much rain at all. I’ll be looking for this one.

  9. Rhythm says:

    I really like the cover and the story sounds quite special. The things that we take for granted here. Would kids here be willing to jump in and rebuild their own school? I don’t know. I’ll have to check this one out. thanks!

  10. Joanna says:

    These kids are just so invested in their education, I believe.

  11. I’m running to get this one. We are so lucky in the United States to have system where children can attend school with so little effort. Most of the problems are made-up drama (I can only imagine what I’ll find when my son begins school). Thanks for sharing this title. I’ve heard some brave stories about children trying to attend school in Syria over the last week.

  12. Joanna says:

    So true, Stacy. I haven’t kept up with Syria for a week or two, so need to do some catching up on the horrific situation there.

  13. This book certainly sounds like a gem. I’ll add it to my list. Thanks.

  14. Aloha, Thank you for your wonderful review of my book. I also enjoyed reading the comments. I wonder if your readers would be interested in the story that preceded RAIN SCHOOL, which also features Thomas. It is called MANGO RAIN, and was first published in Brazil, where it was an award-winning book. MANGO RAIN is now available in English. It’s a story about ideas and creativity, and, like RAIN SCHOOL, praises determination and resourcefulness.
    Aloha, James Rumford

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