Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights happens to share its book birthday with the anniversary of Malala’s life changing event– October 9th. In fact, Malala immediately hooks her audience by flashing back to that particular day, which haunts her memory.
“When I close my eyes, I can see my bedroom. The bed is unmade because I’ve rushed out for school, late for an exam. On my desk, my school schedule is open to the page dated October 9, 2012.”Malala Yousafzai
A seemingly ordinary day turned out to be a greater driving force in Malala’s fight for children’s education around the world. She refused to be silenced. Many know Malala as the girl who was shot by the Taliban, but there is so much more to her story: longing to become a teacher, using media to speak her truth, winning the Nobel Peace Prize, founding the Malala Fund. For those who may be familiar with the literature highlighting Malala’s journey, think of the complexity of this text as snuggled between Malala’s Magic Pencil and the young reader’s edition of I Am Malala. In this book, Malala shares the evolution of her thoughts and actions by dividing her experiences into four major sections:
- Part 1: Before The Danger
- Part 2: A Shadow Over Our Valley
- Part 3: Finding My Voice
- Part 4: A New Life, Far From Home
While we certainly want students to see their reflections in the books they read, it is also crucial for books to take readers into unfamiliar times, places, and cultures. It is through these experiences that our students broaden their knowledge and ideas about the world. Malala does a beautiful job connecting with young audience members by sharing how she’s just a kid– one with annoying brothers, a love for television, and energy to play outdoors. At the same time, my fourth graders quickly realized that Malala’s world was also different from their own– one with stricter gender expectations and a great sense of fear. Malala paints a picture of her life with words that leave readers in awe of how an individual can be so fearful yet so fearless at the same time.
Fourth Graders Said. . .
“The heart of Malala’s story is. . . resilience, strength, hope, determination, courage.”4Q 2018-2019
“It feels like she’s talking directly to us!”Charlotte M.
“We could collect money for the Malala Fund!”Bernie K.
If using this text as a read aloud in your classroom, expect students to giggle, gasp, and grow ideas. Perhaps the most meaningful part of this shared reading experience was the activism that blossomed from it. Fourth graders spent some of our last precious writing hours together crafting persuasive letters to bring home to their families. Together, we joined Malala in her fight by donating $200 to the Malala Fund. My students realized that their voices matter just as much as Malala’s does. Our wish is that you will feel inspired by her voice as much as we were. Celebrate this book almost turning one year old–ready, set, read!
Who is Malala? I am Malala, and this is my story.”