Sophy, a young girl living in a remote low-income village in Cambodia, faced a number of obstacles that prevented her from going to school. Only boys attended the closest school, which was eight kilometers away, and the recent death of her father dealt a large personal and economic blow. However, one day a government census worker, who visited the village once a year, noticed Sophy staring at his running shoes and took an interest in her situation. The running shoes that arrived at Sophy's home a month later helped her to overcome one obstacle - the long trip by foot on a narrow, rocky road - to get to school. Her courage, bright mind, and quick feet helped to overcome an even bigger problem, namely the ridicule from the boys that a girl wanted to join them at school.
This unique book provides readers with a compelling account of the multiple barriers that prevent some children in less developed countries, especially girls, from attending school. Getting past such hurdles can involve multiple steps, including a change in parents' willingness and ability to send a child to school, relaxing social norms about who can attend school, and improving school access for children in remote villages. Running Shoes carefully touches on each of these issues in an inspiring story that will appeal to children and adults alike.