Malala Yousafzai: Shot by the Taliban, Still Fighting for Equal Education

 by Matt Deoden

Review By Fatima Khan, Associate Producer, ReadingWithYourKids.com

This book is a powerful story of Malala Yosafzai, a young girl who fights for the right of all girls to be educated. I felt both humbled and inspired by the story of this brave girl. This is an inspirational story of the girl who single-handedly showed that the pen is mightier than the sword and I would recommend it for people of all ages. Author presents Malala’s story of love for her family and respect for her father who comes across as an inspirational figure. At age 15, the Pakistani youth survived being shot by the Taliban on her way home from school.

Malala Yosafzai was born on July 12, 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan to a Pashtun Family. She was the first child of her parents, Ziauddin and Tor Pekai. She has two brothers named Khushal Khan and Atal Khan. Traditionally, Pashtun parents value sons much more than daughters but Ziauddin, a poet and educator, did not feel this way. In fact he was thrilled to have a daughter, and had decided to give her every opportunity to succeed in life. Her father and his friend had started a school for girls and soon that school became Malala’s new home. Many in her country did not approve of idea of girls being educated but school became an important part of her everyday life.

Malala, like her parents is a devoted Muslim but she did not like the common belief in her country about women being inferior to men and that wives are supposed to obey their husbands and women were expected to cover up thoroughly while in public. Malala and her family’s life in Pakistan was mostly peaceful until September 11, 2011. On that day, members of a terrorist group Al-Qaeda hijacked air planes and attacked the world trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon near Washington, DC. Soon after this day, Swat Valley, where Malala lived happily with her family came under the control of the Taliban. She was too young to understand what was happening, but soon “resented the Taliban’s views on women.” They wanted Ziauddin to close his school but he never changed his views or backed down.

Around this time, Malala noticed poor children digging through the city’s garbage. The children were searching for anything they could sell so that they can pay for their meal. This deeply saddened Malala and she requested her father to give some of them free places in his school. Though Malala was not a perfect child, she never wanted to disappoint her father and always wanted to help others. Her Father was one of a handful of community leaders who publicly criticized the Taliban and did not close his school. Her father was in danger and “knew the Taliban wanted him dead.” Malaya began to blog with the help of Aamer Ahmed Khan of the BBC, but her identity was secret. She was still vocal and the Taliban heard her voice. When she turned fourteen things would change because “In the eyes of the Taliban she was no longer a child.” A man with a handgun boarded her bus and asked who Malala is and then shot her right in her head. And even after this life threatening incident, Malala has shown extraordinary courage in campaigning for the millions of girls who are still denied an education.

This book is a short over view of Malala’s life and is well written. There are full-color photographs and numerous informative sidebars. For example, Author discusses the power of social media and Malala’s foray into the world of Facebook. In the back of the book is an index, a timeline of important dates, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional book and website resources to explore.

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