Malala Yousafzai is an activist for female education from Pakistan. She began blogging anonymously in 2008 (at age 11) for the BBC about her life as a schoolgirl under the Taliban. She revealed that fewer and fewer girls were showing up at school until all girls’ schools were closed by the Taliban.
Her father continued to speak against the Taliban, and in 2009 Malala’s identity was revealed and she appeared on TV to publicly advocate for education for all. In 2012, she further entered the international spotlight when the Taliban tried to kill her for speaking out. In 2014, at the age of 17, she became the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate for her struggle for the right of all children (regardless of gender) to an education. Her perseverance, bravery, and activism makes Malala an inspirational leader, and a phenomenal role model for kids. Here are some videos and books for parents and teachers to use to introduce this exceptional advocate.
Videos about Malala
He Named Me Malala, by National Geographic: this inspiring documentary tells the story Malala Yousafzai, with interviews, live footage, interspersed with an animated story of the Afghani folk hero that is her namesake. It discusses the Taliban, and shows how they moved into the Swat Valley. Finally, the film shows the evolution of her, emerging as a global voice for the education rights of children. I try to always recommend movies that are age-appropriate, and I realize that this is PG-13. Parents and educators should preview the movie, as it obviously does mention violence, and there is a photo of the bus after she was shot that shows blood. My 10 year old looked away at that scene, but loved the rest of the movie!
Here are a couple of her most eloquent speeches. The first speech was given to accept the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, as a 17 year old. In the second speech below, Ms. Yousafzai addresses the United Nations Youth Assembly as she turned 16 years old. The speech was made only 9 months after she was shot! It was her first high-level public appearance and she discusses nonviolence, forgiveness, and the huge importance of education for all.
Books about Malala:
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Here is a list of wonderful books we have read about Malala. I am putting them in order from youngest to oldest.
Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words by Karen Leggett Abouraya. Really great for younger kids: nothing too scary!
Dear Malala, We Stand with You, by Rosemary McCarney. This book is a collection of photographs paired with a “letter” to Malala from children around the world. It was so heartwarming, I was crying the first time I read it aloud.
Malala a Brave Girl from Pakistan / Iqbal a Brave Boy from Pakistan by Jeanette Winter. A favorite author introduces us to two Pakistani children who are brave activists. This is one of those books that you read a story, and then flip it over and read from the back another story. It does vaguely talk about the violence that happened to these children, but in a sensitive way.
For the Right to Learn by Rebecca Langston-George. Great for kids to learn her biography. I love the illustrations in this one.
Who is Malala Yousafzai? by Dinah Brown (chapter book). This whole series is fabulous (we just finished Who was Frida Kahlo? and Who was Jesse Owens?). My kids were especially angered at the details about the Taliban and their treatment of girls. It was truly eye-opening for them!
I am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai. Read around the world, this is an autobiography that tweens and teens will enjoy. This is the “young readers edition” and has more narrative from herself and memories in first person.
I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb. This is essentially the same book as the previous one, but with more historical context and explanation of Pakistan and Pashtun culture. The author also goes into more detail surrounding the medical interventions used to save her life when she is shot.