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Malala Yousafzai and Girls' Right to Education

Girl Power Inspiring Muslim leaders and thinkers Malala Yousafzai

"Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One teacher, one book, one pen, can change the world."
- Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai's commitment to education began at the tender age of 11. Growing up in Swat, Pakistan, she fought for the right of girls to go to school even under threats from the Taliban. She survived a terrible attack on her by the Taliban and continues to advocate for girls education through her organization the Malala Fund. Most recently, she opened a school for refugee Syrian girls. 

Malala was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, and is the youngest person to receive this prestigious prize. In recognition of her commitment to girls’ rights to education, the UN honored her by making her birthday, July 12th, as “Malala Day”.

Even today, girls in South Asia face many barriers to receiving an education. Issues such as poverty, religion, social expectations, ongoing war and conflict as well as rural remoteness impact many parents’ decision to send girls to school. This Malala Day, we highlight a collection of inspiring stories that advocate for girl's right to education and also show how providing an education to one girl can empower families and make an impact on entire communities.

7 Inspiring Books on Girls' Right to Education 

Malala’s Magic Pencil: The first picture book written by Malala Yousafzai herself is a tale from her own childhood when she wished for a magic pencil to right all the wrongs she saw around her. (Picture book, ages 5-8)

Malala: Activist for Girl’s Education: A beautifully illustrated biography of Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This unique book gives a detailed account of her life until her assassination attempt, and insight into the values she was raised with, the opportunities she received, and her inner strength which led her to have the courage to demand the right to go to school.(Picture book, ages 6+)

Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan/ Iqbal, a Brave Boy from Pakistan: Two real life heroes - Iqbal Masih and Malala Yousufzai meet on the pages of this two-in-one picture book by renowned author-illustrator Jeanette Winter. Iqbal spoke up against the child slavery in the carpet trade while Malala championed the girl’s education. Both were violently attacked, and while Malala survived , Iqbal did not. Both stories remind us to fight for the right to education and freedom for all children, everywhere. (Picture book, ages 6+,See lesson plan here)

I am Malala: Malala's autobiography is a riveting first person account of her life. Her vision and fiery passion as well as bravery in the face of dangerous odds is truly an inspiring story. Check out the educator resources that make this book a truly powerful tool for the classroom. (Chapter book, ages 10+)

See all our other Malala books here

Razia’s Ray of Hope: An inspiring story inspired by a real life hero who runs a girls' school in Afghanistan. Despite her longing to go to school, Razia faced objection from the men in her family. She convinced them and shows us how one person has the power to make a difference. The mixed-media illustrations bring Razia’s world to life and add dimension to the thought-provoking book. (Picture book, ages 6+, lesson plans available here)

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan: Nasreen’s grandmother enrolls her in a secret school for girls where she discovers books and a way out of her deep sadness. This book deeply affirms the life-changing power of education and the healing power of love. (Picture book, ages 6+, lesson plans available here)

Dear Mrs. Naidu: Twelve-year-old Sarojini becomes conflicted about her social class when a classmate moves on to a better school. Inspired by her teacher, and her namesake, she takes advocates for change in her school through activism and community. (Chapter book, ages 12 and up)

Check out our picks for International Women's Day 


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