I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban #Giveaway

by Elizabeth

5M4B disclosure

iammalalaWhen the young Taliban swung himself up over the tailboard of the school bus and leaned in to the terrified school girls, he demanded “Who is Malala?” No one said anything, although there were inevitably some who glanced at Malala, the 15 year old high school student who was already well-known for her outspoken support for girls’ education in a place where that was not always welcome. The Taliban fired 3 shots that miraculously didn’t kill anyone, but he left Malala badly injured.

Most of the world knows this story. Malala was eventually flown to Birmingham, England, where she spent several months recuperating and undergoing surgeries in a hospital there, and she and her family now live there, for safety reasons. She addressed the UN on her 16th birthday with the inspirational words “One teacher, one child, one book and one pen can change the world.” She was recently on Jon Stewart promoting her book, and he was rendered speechless by her.

I Am Malala takes us behind the scenes to Malala’s family, childhood, and nation. She’s from the Swat Valley, a gorgeous area tucked up near the Himalayas and home to waterfalls, lush rivers, flowers and fruit in abundance. She was a happy child, adored by her parents. However, the area is poor and undeveloped, and Malala’s clear-eyed take on Pakistan’s history shows clearly the marks of corruption and ineptitude, and the price paid for those things by the ordinary citizens.

Malala’s father is an exceptional man. Born in a poor valley bounded between two high mountains, growing up with a stutter, his dream was to open a school and bring education to children. He has a real fight to get an education, and soon afterwards he does all he can to start a school, even though that means bringing a new wife to share a single-room apartment he shares with his fellow teacher and business partner. But Ziauddin Yousafzai is a determined and fearless man. He speaks out at every chance about the importance of education, and he unabashedly adores his firstborn daughter, Malala. Malala grows up like him, and together they speak out against injustice, and do all they can to provide free education to those who need it, even though that sometimes means they are in need themselves. Malala’s mother feeds whoever stops by at mealtimes, and Malala’s two younger brothers keep things lively.

I Am Malala offers, too, a look at life from “the other side.” I put that in quotes because it’s not necessarily accurate to describe us as being on opposite sides, but I did appreciate reading about Pakistan’s recent history from the viewpoint of a young Pakistani girl. Everything from Benazir Bhutto’s assassination to the CIA operative’s shooting of 2 unarmed men to the capture and execution of Osama Bin Laden affected her view of her nation and the world around her.

Malala and her family watched in dismay as the Taliban came to Swat Valley in 2007, following a pattern in which they first seduced the people through providing aid after a devastating earthquake, then preaching to the masses their own skewed view of the Qu’ran. Soon the girls’ school run by her father was under threat. He fought back, clearly defending himself against false accusations and pointing out the inaccuracy of their teaching. He received death threats several times but refused body guards, because he knew that an attack where there are guards means more people hurt, more people killed.

Malala herself began to gain notoriety. She wrote a blog for the BBC Urdu website on life as a young schoolgirl under the Taliban, using an assumed name. Since they didn’t have internet access, she would dictate her thoughts by phone to a journalist who would type them up for her. The blog gained a lot of attention in Pakistan. Malala writes, “I began to see that the pen and the words that come from it can be much more powerful than machine guns, tanks or helicopters. We were learning how to struggle. And we were learning how powerful we are when we speak.”

In spite of this, the power of the Taliban grew and more and more girls stayed home from school, either out of coercion on the part of their family members, or out of fear. At one point, most people evacuated the valley so that the army could come in and roust the Taliban. Although on their return the family found that things had improved somewhat, the threat of extremism remained an everyday reality. Yet Malala and her family continued to speak out about the importance of education for girls.

Malala is an endearing personality. She’s sweet and kind but very competitive at school and is bitterly disappointed when she doesn’t place first in her class. She loves school and reads any book she can get her hands on, and she compares the Taliban to the evil vampires in the Twilight series coming out of the woods, which I thought apt. But above all her courage and fearlessness stand out. I Am Malala is an inspiring book, and reminds us all that everyone deserves an education. In his book Half the Sky, New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristof points out studies that show the number one way to decrease poverty is to educate women. With her fearless unending quest to ensure the right of education for all, Malala shows us that one person really can make a difference, even a poor girl from an obscure valley in the mountains of Pakistan.

Enter to Win

I’m really thrilled to announce that one of you can win a copy of this book. It’s not only an important read, it’s interesting and inspirational as well. It would also be a great read for your teenaged daughters.

Email Author    |    Website About Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a voracious reader with eclectic tastes who loves being part of the team at 5 Minutes for Books. She's lived in 7 countries and is currently in Oregon, where she spends most of her time with Iraqi refugees. She has 3 teens.

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marti Tabora November 18, 2013 at 6:54 am

I want to read it because I was touched by her story and I’m sure I would enjoy reading the book. Thank you for the opportunity.


2 amyc November 18, 2013 at 11:24 am

This girl is so admirable and courageous and would love to read her story.


3 Ann B. November 18, 2013 at 11:47 am

I saw her on the news and was inspired by her bravery in the face of such danger.


4 Janet November 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I have been so inspired ever since we heard about her. The cruelty of keeping girls from education is bad enough but to target a child! And every time I see her speak she amazes me more, in her wisdom and grace and determination. Definitely a book to share with the girls in our lives!


5 Wehaf November 18, 2013 at 2:47 pm

I think Malala is one of the most inspiring and effective fighters for human rights today.


6 Lauren November 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I am hoping to read her book because she is a brave and strong girl. She is very inspiring.


7 Beth November 18, 2013 at 4:27 pm

I have heard amazing things about this book and would love to read it for myself.


8 Theresa J November 18, 2013 at 5:04 pm

I saw an intereview with her on the Daily show and she is a remarkable young women


9 shelly leatham November 19, 2013 at 2:22 am

The book looks very interesting to me. I’d like to read it.


10 anne November 19, 2013 at 10:55 am

An amazing woman and a memorable story.


11 Brooke November 19, 2013 at 8:22 pm

I’ve been eyeing this book! Hope to win!


12 Tammy S November 19, 2013 at 11:41 pm

I would love to read this book because I think it’s an amazing story of courage and for standing up for your beliefs.


13 Daniel M November 20, 2013 at 12:45 am

sounds like an amazing story


14 another jennifer November 20, 2013 at 6:18 am

Malala is amazing and inspiring. I’ve been following her story and would love to read here book.


15 wendy rozema November 20, 2013 at 10:27 am

I’d like to read this story b/c it sounds very inspiring


16 Jessica Shipman November 20, 2013 at 10:48 am

I would love to read this book. I bet it is a great read.


17 Shari November 20, 2013 at 2:26 pm

I’ve heard her speak a time or two, and she is just incredible. Would like to read more of her story from her own words.


18 Jessica Tan November 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I love reading true stories!


19 Jessica Tan November 20, 2013 at 7:39 pm

I love reading true stories! Always good reads.


20 LaVonne November 21, 2013 at 1:02 am

I rememer seeing it on the news. I’d love to read an inspirational story of it!


21 Casandra November 21, 2013 at 1:58 am

This is an absolutely incredible person. I almost feel bad entering this giveaway because I planned on buying this book anyway. Definitely a must read, so inspiring. This would be a great gift!


22 Stephanie November 21, 2013 at 11:36 pm

I remember hearing her story. It was so inspiring! I would like to think that I would be so courageous under such circumstances.


23 acmommy3 November 24, 2013 at 9:20 pm

I’d like to read this book, and also share this book with others, just to see the world through another pair of eyes – one of the great things about books! Opportunities to see and feel what others have and are going through.


24 Heather B November 25, 2013 at 7:52 am

I love books that share things through other people’s eye. Also like to read books about strong women, sounds like something I can read and pass along to my daughter.


25 Laurie T November 25, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I am left in awe at the bravery of someone so young; her determination and drive and mind for justice and morality springs eternal. Her stand is simply unflappable; she will not be stopped. Who she is and what she stands for, I know, will continue to live on no matter how long she lives. The world will know her name for centuries to come! Women, all women everywhere, will be able to hold their head up, proud, because of what she stands for… I would LOVE a copy of her book!


26 Angela Saver November 26, 2013 at 3:48 pm

I’d love to win this to give it to my teenage daughter because I think it is a great story that would inspire her.



27 judith November 28, 2013 at 8:58 am

I want to understand this part of the world better … and her story is inspiring.


28 Jessica Wyatt November 29, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I’ve read so many things about this book, I would love to read it- sounds amazing!


29 Katie B November 29, 2013 at 8:49 pm

I would love to read this book and learn her story. She sounds like an amazing woman of courage!


30 Ashley Fryer November 29, 2013 at 9:51 pm

I love inspirational, nonfiction stories.


31 Danielle Jones November 29, 2013 at 9:53 pm

She is such a strong woman. I would love to read her story.


32 Michelle Tucker November 29, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Both my roommate and I have been following her story. I think we’d both like to read this.


33 Milena November 30, 2013 at 8:18 am

I have just always been interested in her story. I would share with my niece.


34 TheBargainBabe November 30, 2013 at 8:47 am

i would like to win this book because I know who Malala is but do not know much of her story. Thanks for offering the giveaway!


35 Adrianne B November 30, 2013 at 8:57 am

I’d love to give this book as a gift this year- Malala is an inspiration!


36 Natalie November 30, 2013 at 9:12 am

I think she is an amazing survivor , I’ve wanted to read this for a long time


37 Nancy November 30, 2013 at 9:28 am

I’d like to learn more about this brave girl.


38 Mary Jacobowitz November 30, 2013 at 9:32 am

I saw her on the ABC special and would love to read the book to learn more about her.


39 Ruth Hill November 30, 2013 at 10:57 am

Her story is completely inspiring, and I think she should have won the Nobel Peace Prize. I want to know the real story!


40 Diana Hatch November 30, 2013 at 11:34 am

It looks like a touching story I would love to read


41 Melinda Stephens November 30, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I’ve hard a bit about her and seen interviews with her. I’d love to hear the whole story.


42 Ann Barham November 30, 2013 at 3:18 pm

I would love to gift this to my niece. It is such an inspirational story.


43 Brigette Streeper November 30, 2013 at 8:52 pm

I think it is important to stand up for what you believe in. She did at the cost of her life. I would love to read her story.


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