Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Children's Nonfiction School & Education

Secret Schools

True Stories of the Determination to Learn

by (author) Heather Camlot

illustrated by Erin Taniguchi

Owlkids Books Inc.
Initial publish date
Sep 2022
School & Education, Politics & Government, General, Social Activism & Volunteering
Recommended Age
9 to 12
Recommended Grade
6 to 12
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2022
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Education goes undercover in this compelling look at some of the world’s most secretive schools through history

Can you keep a secret? What if it meant hiding from your loved ones, sneaking out late at night, or risking imprisonment? And what if that secret was that you were going to school?

From covert classrooms created by enslaved Africans in the United States, to academic schools disguised as “sewing lessons” for women in Afghanistan, to espionage schools run by powerful governments, Secret Schools explores the hidden classrooms that have opened their doors so children and adults could learn.

Vivid linocut illustrations and interesting facts enhance the book’s 15 true stories of resilience and courage in the pursuit of education. Accompanying profiles for each story introduce readers to an important person who played a significant role in each secret school. Concluding with a look at inventive approaches to education in today’s world, this deep dive into clandestine learning will invite readers to think deeply about the meaning of education and the barriers many face in accessing it.

About the authors

HEATHER CAMLOT is the author of the nonfiction What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows? and the Skipping Stones Honor Award novels The Other Side and Clutch, the latter of which was named among Kirkus’s Best Middle-Grade Historical Fiction. A journalist for more than 20 years, she has written, edited and translated for various publications, including Quill & Quire, Owl, TV Guide Canada and Style at Home. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.


Heather Camlot's profile page

ERIN TANIGUCHI is an illustrator and printmaker who earned their fine arts degree from Emily Carr University and has been working as an artist for almost a decade. Their work can be seen in numerous magazines throughout North America, illustrating works of fiction, current affairs and political articles. They are based in Vancouver, British Columbia.


Erin Taniguchi's profile page


  • Short-listed, Red Cedar Book Award: Non-Fiction
  • Short-listed, Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award
  • Commended, A Junior Library Guild Selection

Editorial Reviews

"The information is interesting and presented in short sections ... Recommended."

Canadian Review of Materials

"A humbling account of peoples around the world, now and in history, that covertly struggle to learn despite the dangers involved."

Canadian Children's Book News

"Inspiring ... Readers will gain a new perspective about the world around them and their own role as students."

BC Teachers' Federation

"Inspiring tributes to select underground and nontraditional schools and those who founded them."

Kirkus Reviews

"A timely look at past and present tales of students struggling to learn at all costs ... This book will surely inspire students to conduct further research on many of these underground schools as well as the many brave individuals who made them possible."

School Library Connection

"An interesting, often inspiring overview of a topic rarely examined for this age group that will motivate readers to explore further."


Other titles by Heather Camlot

Related lists