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Home > Children’s Authors > Rukhsana Khan

Rukhsana Khan
Photo of Mahvash Shahegh

Rukhsana Khan is an award-winning author and storyteller with over thirteen books that range from children’s picture books to young adult novels. Ms. Khan has retold a very worthy folktale for Wisdom Tales children’s book The Clever Wife: A Kyrgyz Folktale (April 2022), with wonderfully colorful illustrations from Ayesha Gamiet. The story is based on a traditional folktale from Kyrgyzstan in central Asia. It tells the tale of a spirited young heroine whose wisdom and courage draw the attention and admiration of the ruler, followed by intrigue, betrayal, and exile, which the heroine must overcome.

Ms. Khan has been telling children the story of “The Clever Wife” for years, and has now condensed the tale to a text that works perfectly as a children’s book. The text retains many of the aspects of a great tale for telling around a campfire or at bedtime, revealing much of the practiced storyteller’s art. For example, The Clever Wife starts out with a problem with great stakes: a good leader, the Khan, is dying and a replacement must be found to maintain peace and justice in his realm. The tale presents big problems facing the Khan’s people and the new ruler, but the storyteller moves quickly and rhythmically through years and through a growing cast of characters, all while avoiding unessential details and finally leading the audience to a tidy but still unexpected ending. Parents and teachers will find that Rukhsana’s text is quite custom-made to read aloud, but they will also certainly want to pause from time to time to let children spend time looking at the book’s vibrant, engaging, and complementary illustrations.

The story may come from a far-away time and place, but the themes are universal, which is of course a primary concern for a multicultural storyteller and author such as Ms. Khan. Positive outcomes at crucial moments depend on all-important human virtues such as consideration for others, humility, wisdom, perseverance, recognition of one’ own errors, seeing others as equals, and so on.

Rukhsana Khan was born in Lahore, Pakistan and immigrated to Canada at the age of three. She grew up in a small town and was ruthlessly bullied. She turned to books in order to survive. When a grade eight teacher told her she was a writer, she thought the idea was crazy. Writers were white people. They were from England and America. To be “sensible” she graduated from college at the top of her class as a biological-chemical technician. When she couldn’t get a decent job, she decided to be “unsensible” and become a writer. It took eight years of perseverance to get her first book published.

Of her thirteen-plus books, Rukhsana’s work has been published in other countries and has garnered dozens of awards and commendations. One of her books (Big Red Lollipop, Viking Books 2010) was even chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the 100 greatest children's books in the last 100 years. She has appeared on television and radio and has been featured at conferences and festivals around the world. She’s been a corporal in the air cadets, worked on vintage warplanes, composed songs and written stories for children's videos, raised four children (three girls and a boy) and has twelve grandchildren.

Ms. Khan loves reading, writing, storytelling, traveling, gardening and hiking.  She used to like tobogganing but she broke her wrist zooming down a slope on one of those red saucer things.  As a result, she no longer likes tobogganing.

Rukhsana Khan lives in Toronto with her husband.

Author Extras & Links


  • See Rukhsana Khan’s website for a multitude of resources. Her website includes sections for her blog, her official biography, a list of her books, articles that she has written on many subjects, lists of books she recommends, tips and teaching materials for teachers using her books, puzzles for children, and a great deal more. It is one of the most thoroughly developed author sites we have seen.
  • For readers of The Clever Wife, there is a special treat: Rukhsana Khan did a storytelling session for a classroom of young children for the folktale of “The Clever Wife.” It is linked from her website along with other YouTube storytelling sessions and some more formal presentations. This 13-minute video can be seen on YouTube using this direct link to Ms. Khan’s telling of “The Clever Wife.”
 
a sample page-spread from the book “The Clever Wife: A Kyrgyz Folktale”, written by Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by Ayesha Gamiet

A sample page-spread from The Clever Wife: A Kyrgyz Folktale,
written by Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by Ayesha Gamiet



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