Neema’s Reason to Smile

Neema’s Reason to Smile


What's in your dream basket?

Neema's is full of big dreams, like becoming a scientist, an inventor, or a teacher.

Neema's Reason to Smile is the story of Neema, a young Kenyan girl who dreams of one day being able to afford to go to school. Slowly, and with great purpose, Neema makes a plan to save money in her dream basket and make her dream come true. One day, a mysterious young girl skips down the street wearing a red skirt and white shirt. Soon, she guides Neema all the way to a new school.

Author Patricia Newman’s award-winning books show kids how their actions can ripple around the world. With titles such as Neema’s Reason to Smile; Zoo Scientists to the Rescue; Sea Otter Heroes; and Plastic, Ahoy!, she hopes to empower kids to think about the adults they’d like to become.

Categories: , , ,
Product ID: 13374ISBN: 9781682655849.


Grade 2-6 | Fiction | ISBN: 978-1-68265-584-9 | Lexile: 610 | GRL: M | English 

Neema’s Reason to Smile: 


  • Supports girl empowerment and entrepreneurship  
  • Helps develop social-emotional competencies and career and life skills 
  • Improves literacy, comprehension, and critical-thinking skills 
  • Introduces young readers to the power of support systems and diverse perspectives 
  • Provides powerful illustrations to engage readers 

Key features: 

  • Depth of Knowledge content aligned to Common Core ELA Standards 
  • Individual and group activities to support social-emotional learning 
  • Glossary to build and expand student vocabulary 
  • Primary sources to help students relate in a personal way 

About the Author:  

Patricia Newman’s award-winning books show kids how their actions can ripple around the world. With titles such as Neema’s Reason to SmilePlanet OceanZoo Scientists to the RescueSea Otter Heroes; and Plastic, Ahoy!, she hopes to empower kids to think about the adults they’d like to become. Visit her at 


A Parents’ Choice Foundation Recommended Picture Book!

Praise for Neema’s Reason to Smile:

“This is a lovely story about following your heart and working hard to achieve your goals. Neema’s journey is a compelling one that should engage even reluctant readers.”
—School Library Journal

“Neema’s happy story is brought to life with lush multimedia illustrations that feature traditional fabric and weaving textures. Though fictional, this story is based on the author’s connections with the women at the Jambo Jipya School in the town of Mtwapa, Kenya.”

“Lyrical and lovely, Neema’s Reason to Smile reminds us that education is the greatest gift we can give a child, and that with enough love and determination, dreams sometimes do come true. Moving, important, and inspiring.”
—Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal Winning Children’s Author

“A satisfying and enlightening story of a child’s thirst for an education. Important for children who take the opportunity to go to school for granted.”
—Kemie Nix, Senior Book Editor for Parents’ Choice

“With vivid, flowing prose and wonderfully vibrant characters, Neema’s Reason to Smile takes on a complicated topic—girls overcoming global obstacles to education—yet delivers a poignant example of how dreams can be realized through community. Although this tale is set in Kenya, it represents stories that unfold in real life in more than 50 countries around the world where school is not free.”
—Tanya Lee Stone, author of “Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time,” NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work—Youth/Teens; Golden Kite Award for Nonfiction

“You will never know the potential of any child, youth, and adult until that person is given an opportunity to acquire education. When you don’t educate the people, you’re crippling them you are not giving them ways to fend for themselves. Neema’s Reason to Smile reinforces how education creates conscious awakening for peace to happen in ourselves and around us.”
—Emmanuel Jal, Peace activist, musician, former child soldier, actor, and entrepreneur

A whole child approach ensures that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.

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