I recently read the book I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) and to say it changed my perspective on education does not come close to how vastly this book impacted my life. I have heard the words “Taliban” and “terrorist” in my lifetime, in fact, quite often. However, I was completely blind to what exactly has been going on with these parties, and I regret that. Fortunately, Malala helped me fix that.
Schools across the nation have picked up on this young readers edition of I Am Malala, having their students read the words of Malala Yousafzai, one of these schools being Edith Bowen Laboratory School in Logan, Utah. I spoke with a few older students reading this book and their reactions amazed me! They made comments on how brave she had been and how inspiring she was to each of them.
“She loves going to school and getting good grades and I want to be just like her!” one girl told me. I was inspired by her story before I had even read it. Once I did get my hands on a copy, I was not disappointed. Malala truly does have such an influential story that everyone needs to hear.
Malala writes about her experience gaining a hard-to-obtain education in Pakistan because the Taliban is against girls learning. She speaks up to news stations, writes online under a pseudonym, and gives speeches when possible to speak about how unfair the Taliban treats everyone, especially women. While standing as an advocate for education, she was also studying hard for exams and even breaking rules to continue going to school.
This book can be so beneficial in schools not only for the inspiring, hard-working story that Malala wrote but also because of the raw information she tells of her first-hand experience watching the Taliban in action. In parts of the book, I was emotional trying to imagine my family going through similar situations, leaving homes and pets, sometimes even loved ones. My life here in the United States is very comfortable living. I have ready access to food, water, shelter, and love, the simple, absolute needs that may not even be available in other countries.
Why is it important for students to know and study current events? It can teach empathy, tolerance, and build communication skills. This article from Education World goes into more detail on how impactful current events can be in the classroom.
I Am Malala is a book that should be on the shelves of every classroom and library. It brings two worlds together, inspiring and educating students.
Have you read I Am Malala? Did you feel like it inspired you or your students?