Thursday, February 2, 2017

Malala: Activist for Girls' Education

Malala: Activist for Girls' Education
written by Raphaele Frier; illustrated by Aureliea Fronty
2017 (Charlesbridge)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world. 

From birth, Malala Yousafzai was contending for equal treatment. Her father encouraged family and friends to shower her cradle with dried fruits, candy, and coins even though she was not a boy. The founder of a school for girls in the Swat Valley of Pakistan, Ziauddin was determined that Malala would have an education despite the threatening presence of the Taliban. She loved her land, but not all of its ways. Malala's mother could not read or write, but her daughter was going to have a different life. An earthquake in 2005 strengthened the hand of a local Taliban leader. He said the quake was a result of sin, and used religion to curtail the freedoms of the people. That included shutting down the Khushal School. Malala made a speech challenging the Taliban and asking "How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?" With her school having been taken away, she landed an opportunity to write a blog about her struggle. She took on a leadership role as speaker of a child assembly. The Taliban had been driven from her valley, but they returned. Schools were destroyed. Malala pressed on with her fight for the right to have an education. With success as a writer and a speaker, she started a foundation that helped her and others seeking knowledge. Angry with her success and her father's schools, two Taliban fighters stopped her bus and she was shot. Flown to England, Malala survived the assassination attempt and found greater fame and a bigger voice for her cause.

Malala is an excellent introduction to the life of one of the biggest heroes of this young century. Why is she important? Malala's strength teaches us to be brave in the face of fear. To be hopeful in dark times. She is a window to a place and circumstances of which most of our students are not familiar and her life shows that young people can make a difference. We need books that will inspire us to stand up for what is right.

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