Malala for the Whole Family

One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.
—Malala Yousafzai

Today I have books about Malala Yousafzai for the entire family. Malala is the Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner and champion for girls’ rights around the world who was shot by the Taliban in 2012 while on her way home from school. Her story is an empowering one that we can all benefit from, and it is one that we should be sharing with the young people in our lives, both boys and girls. Pictured above from left to right are her memoir for adults, for young adults, and for children, as well as a picture book. Detailed information about each appears below. Happy reading!

Title: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
Author: Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb
For: Adults
Special Features: Two insets of color pictures, a glossary, a timeline of important events in Swat, and a reading group guide
ISBN: 9780316322409 (Hardcover), 9780316322423 (Paperback)
Find it here: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

This is the bestselling memoir by Malala that tells the story of her life from her birth until her family’s resettlement in Birmingham. Malala’s first person narration so perfectly captures her life as a little girl, the enormity of what happened to her, and the stakes of the work she is doing. She describes going to an important event, where she is the speaker of honor, but she doesn’t neglect to mention what she wore (a pink shalwar kameez). I loved hearing about how competitive she was at school and how much she enjoyed learning. The relationship between her and her father is touching: he was an activist, and I loved seeing how he encouraged her to speak up and be a part of his work. I really enjoyed learning about Pashto culture and also about the origins of the Taliban, which are two things I really didn’t know much about before. All the stars!


Title: I am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition)
Author: Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick
For: Ages 11–17
Special Features: Two insets of color pictures, a glossary, and a timeline of important events
ISBN: 9780316311199 (Hardcover), 9780316327916 (Paperback)
Find it here: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

This is Malala’s memoir, rewritten for young adults.









Title: Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights
Author: Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick
For: Ages 8–12
Special Features: Illustrations; boxes with cultural, religious, and political notes throughout the text; a glossary, and a short timeline
ISBN: 9780316527149 (Hardcover), 9781526361592 (Paperback)
Find it here: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

This is also Malala’s memoir but this time, rewritten for younger readers. It is appropriate for kids to read on their own and would also make a great read-along. It is short enough to hold smaller kids’ attention but long enough to tell the whole story. It it also really visually appealing, with a large spaced-out font and periodic line illustrations.







Title: Malala’s Magic Pencil
Author: Malala Yousafzai
Illustrator: Kerascoët
For: Ages 4–8
ISBN: 9780316319577 (Hardcover)
Find it here: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

This picture book begins with Malala wishing she had a magic pencil like the one a favorite TV character has. She imagines all the changes she would make using the pencil. By the end of the story, Malala discovers that she does indeed have a magic pencil of sorts—her voice. This is an empowering story with really fantastic illustrations, and is one of my favorite nonfiction picture books ever.



Yes, I’m Hot in This

Yes, I’m Hot in This: The Hilarious Truth about Life in a Hijab is a book of comics about wearing a hijab and being visibly Muslim in America by Huda Fahmy. I found it laugh-out-loud funny at times and a sharp social commentary at others. But it is so relatable, and that means a lot to me. This book pokes fun at the hilarity that can rather surprisingly ensue from a simple piece of fabric, and it speaks the truth about some of the more difficult things hijabis have had to face with honesty and empathy. 

The book’s main character (the same one as on Instagram) is named Huda, like the author. The comics are divided into six chapters based on loose topics.

Chapter 1—“Yes I’m Hot in This”—is about hijab in general.

Chapter 2—“My Born Identity”— is about being asked where you’re from and getting blank stares when you say “Michigan.” But it’s also about how you might have to deal with immigrant parents and families who remind you to remember your heritage and say things like “be proud of who you are” when you’re on your way out to the movies. And it’s about how, consequently, you don’t quite fit in anywhere.

Chapter 3—“Married to the Struggle”—is about Huda’s married life with her husband, whose name is Gehad. They use nicknames in public to prevent the chaos that would no doubt ensue if she were to call out “Gehaaaad” in a public place.

Chapter 4—“Yes, People Actually Say This Stuff to Me”— is about all the crazy stuff people actually say to hijabis in public. This chapter has microaggressions and macroaggressions and all the aggressions.

Chapter 5—“I’m Ready for My Close-Up”— is about pop culture and representations of Muslims.

Chapter 6—“It Never Hurts to Hope”— is about hope. Huda describes some of the hopeful signs she has already seen around her and others she hopes to see soon.

I recommend this book for every hijabi living in the West and for everyone curious about what it’s like to be a hijabi in the West. I also recommend this book as a gift for all the well-meaning but clueless people in your life; it tackles serious topics with humor and grace.

You can find it here: Goodreads | | Book Depository

Scroll down to see some of my favorite panels, and let me which you can relate to as well.


Escape from Syria

Escape from Syria, written by Samya Kullab and illustrated and colored by Jackie Roche and Mike Freiheit, is a graphic novel following the journey of a girl and her family from their home in Syria to a refugee camp in Lebanon to resettlement in Canada.

When the novel opens, Amina is returning home from school, where she got an A on a test, thinking about what she wants to be when she grows up. We don’t find out, however, because that’s when the bombing begins.

Her immediate family is spared injury, but their home has been destroyed. “After the explosion, Dad said all was lost. We had to leave.” They gather what they can, and Amina is a little reassured when her father tells her that “it will only be for a little while.”

The novel then jumps back and forth in time, showing snippets of their life under Assad (fearful) and their resettlement in Canada (difficult) while telling the story of their journey after the explosions in Aleppo.

I like that while giving a big-picture, comprehensive view of what a refugee’s journey might look like, this book does have a focus—the reality of life in the refugee camps. Among other things, it describes

  • the presence of loan sharks in the camps who take advantage of people’s desperation, charging high interest rates and using paid muscle to enforce payment
  • families encouraging girls as young as nine to marry, in an effort to protect them from sexual harassment
  • the exorbitant visa fees charged by the Lebanese government (A $200 fee to renew visas each year in Lebanon meant that many stopped renewing their visas, lost their legal residence status, and had to keep a low profile. It also meant that others would risk crossing the Syrian border in order to re-enter Lebanon and renew for free.)
  • the reluctance of many to go too far away from Syria (They hoped the war in Syria would be over soon and they would be able to return.)

This book masterfully combines a humanizing story with enough information to give readers a basic understanding of the situation. This is done in two ways. The first is the presence of maps and other visual guides throughout the text, and the second is a section of blind notes at the end of the book. These notes provide more information about some of the topics mentioned, including explanations of Arabic words, cultural notes, and detailed historical backgrounds.

I really enjoyed the art in this. It captures emotion really well, and in spite of the jumps in time, presents a clear and easy-to-follow narrative. I should warn readers that this book does depict some considerably graphic scenes, including a row of heads on spikes.

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for an introduction to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Find it here: GoodreadsAmazon | Book Depository

The Things I Would Tell You

The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write is an anthology of literature written by twenty-two British Muslim women and edited by Sabrina Mahfouz. Rather than being a book about faith, this book is sometimes about the lived experiences of women who exist in the intersection of their Britishness and another identity and is sometimes simply an exhibition of these women’s literary talent. Some of the pieces are set in the UK; others are set in Palestine, Pakistan, and Yemen. View Post

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns

Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, is something of a classic in the world of Muslim children’s literature, and rightly so.

This concept picture book for ages 5–6 uses stunning illustrations of the objects that fill a Muslim’s life to teach about colors, connecting an everyday lesson with an introduction to Islam that small children can understand. View Post