top of page


Roots in Iran:
Inspiring Stories of Visionary Women

ROOTS cover 2D.jpg

Yasmine Mahdavi was born and raised in Iran. She left Iran for the U.S. when she was 12 years old. Her career has spanned both the nonprofit and corporate sectors. She wrote this book—her first—to her 13-year-old self as an homage to her country of birth and an ode to her adopted country. Yasmine is the recipient of a 2018 We Need Diverse Books Walter Grant Award and a 2019 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Nevada Mentorship. Yasmine lives in New York City with her husband, their two children, and a rescue Labrador Retriever. 


Roots in Iran

Buy Now

Yasmine Mahdavi's debut novel, Roots in Iran: Inspiring Stories of Visionary Women is a collage of biographies about 15 courageous women and daughters of families who left Iran, their country of birth. The book is divided into two sections. The longer chapters give readers an in-depth look into the lives of five diverse, trailblazing women. Readers learn how Anousheh Ansari’s fascination with the galaxies led to her triumphs and travails as an entrepreneur, and how Jasmin Moghbeli—riveted by the achievements of Valentina Tereshkova—became a Marine helicopter pilot and eventually a U.S. astronaut. The shorter chapters introduce readers to ten more dynamic women. Readers travel with Farnaz “Spider-Woman” Esmaeilzadeh, a rock-climbing champion, to find out how she got her start, and discover how Melody Ehsani, designer extraordinaire, champions women’s rights even though she didn’t end up in law school. All of the women are transformative pioneers.

Their vision of who they wanted to be led them to their path of self-realization. Of course, they had upsets and setbacks. They had energy that waxed and waned. They were wounded and then recovered. They attempted difficult things and sometimes failed. They made practical and impractical decisions. They were confident, but not always. Yet they dared to set their sights on a place higher than they could see! They strived to be exceptional, and they succeeded.

Each of the stories is complemented by brilliant, full-color portraits created by female artists with roots in the Middle East.

Roots in Iran also offers enriching sidebars where readers get a glimpse into Iran’s culture and history as well as the intriguing and challenging vocations these women have explored. In addition, each chapter offers a discussion guide and writing prompts for educators to use with readers. 

See Teacher's Guide.


A useful, informative, and inspiring text for preteens and teen, ROOTS IN IRAN offers a wide range of intelligent, creative, and determined female role models, plus relevant information on related topics, from chess to soccer to Nowruz celebrations, all beautifully illustrated and presented in attention-grabbing fashion.

– Indie Reader

"This book is a blueprint for how we support one another. There’s the art depicting each featured woman—beautiful portraits in their own right—all designed by women with roots in the Middle East, too. Yasmine highlighted the journey of amplifying the voices, creations and ideas of folks whose roots are woven with our own as a deeply fulfilling one. It is a guide for loving our people."

– WeNeedDiverseBooks

"An uplifting work of nonfiction. Mahdavi has succeeded in penning a work that will no doubt motivate and enlighten young girls around the world. The discussion questions and writing prompts included at the end of the text can provoke essential discussions and thoughtful conversations in educational settings. Created by talented women, about talented women, and for the talented female leaders of the future - wherever they may be from - Roots in Iran is an eye-opening and inspiring combination of art and prose."


— Self-Publishing Review

"Beautifully written short biographical sketches about a number of incredible Iranian women doing extraordinary things, against all odds. I am reading this book with my 8 yo daughter, and we are both enjoying it and learning so much! It is inspiring and captivating. My daughter also loves the beautiful illustrations throughout the book. This will be my go-to gift for kids ages 8-18yo!!"

— Amazon Reviewer

"I love these stories of women finding their passion for chess, science, math, all different areas. And they pursue them despite hardships in their families, sometimes problems with the government in Iran and sometimes living in other countries. The writing is nice and conversational, so it's like hearing a great story while talking to a friend at a cafe -- a story that reminds you to always be yourself, believe in yourself." 

— Amazon Reviewer

"Fantastic stories of wonderful contributions to the country and society. Such a crucial read, especially for children. Hope to see more stories like this."

— Amazon Reviewer

"This little book by Yasmine Mahdavi is a true gem. At a time when the societal focus is on implementing diversity and equality on a variety of fronts, "Roots in Iran" narrates the stories of fifteen inspiring women who achieved their true potential - and beyond - against all odds; five of the women and their journeys are described in detail and the others are short sketches, with their fields ranging from Engineering to Mathematics to Chess to Entrepreneurship... and into Space! The book is designed to be pithy and is mighty effective in distilling things to their essence. It is also illustrated in a colorful style, with Food for Thought, Discussion Guide, and Writing Tips, at the end, making it suitable also for use as a textbook in a School or Literature course setting. Overall, I recommend the book highly. It is uplifting, provides an indirect glimpse into Iran's culture and history, and underscores the triumph of human - woman - spirit in pursuit of excellence: Where There is a Will, There is a Way!! A Must Read, I say."

— Amazon Reviewer

bottom of page