Children's Bookshelf: Malala

Oct 16, 2017

This week on The Children's Bookshelf, Dr. Sue Ann Martin reviews MALALA: Activist for Girls' Education. She says this is a great biography for children ages 6 to 9.


MALALA: Activist for Girls’ Education written by Raphaele Frier and illustrated by Aurelia Fronty is an in depth picture book biography of Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai designed for young readers.

The striking book cover features the picture of the clear-eyed Malala holding a bouquet of wild flowers that is also sprouting books and pencils.

The story moves from her schooldays to her writing of a blog entitled “Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl” carried on the BBC website, the attempt on her life, her recovery and the world wide attention honoring her work.

The artist’s vision of Mingora, Pakistan where Malala was born on July 12, 1997 is full of beautiful patterns and intricate designs. The picture of baby Malala in her cradle with candies and coins placed there by family and friends as requested by her father in celebration of the birth of his daughter is special.  

The back material is as vibrant as the book with eleven photographs.  Her quotations are useful companions to this story including her remarks at the United Nations on July 12, 2013.  “We realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced.”

MALALA: Activist for Girl’s Education written by Raphaele Frier and Illustrated by Aurelia Fronty is a biography well produced and designed for 6-9 year olds  (Charlesbridge, 2017). 

Questions and Activities for Malala

In the back material five people who inspired Malala are noted including a fictional Pashtun folktale heroine Gul Makai and Afghan heroine Malalai as well as Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr. Be sure to read about them at the back of the book. Why do you think each one of these names are on her list? Make a list of the people who have inspired you and write a paragraph explaining why they are on your list. In addition to well-known figures please also think about family members, teachers, coaches and friends.

Think about Malala’s quotation: “With guns you can kill terrorists; with education you can kill terrorism.” What is she saying? Please write a paragraph that presents your understanding of this quote.

Both the text and a video of Malala’s speech to the United Nations on July 12, 2013 are available on the internet. Take this opportunity to read or listen to her speech. What is the most powerful idea you take away from this speech and why?