This is a letter, illustrated with beautiful photographs, to the girl who stood up to the Taliban and continues to inspire people all around the world.
Rosemary McCarney leads the Plan International Canada team, where she helped create the very important 'Because I am a Girl' campaign and worked to have an International Day of the Girl declared by the United Nations to celebrate the lives of girls and draw attention to the particular challenges they face. A lawyer by training, she has put those skills to use in nearly 100 countries around the world.
Every Day is Malala Day by Rosemary McCarney with Plan International is a tribute letter to Malala Yousafazai. The book was inspired by a short film dedicated to Malala Yousafazai, the young Pakistani girl who dared to speak up for the right of all girls to an education. Shot by the Taliban on October 9, 2012, Malala’s story has become symbolic of the struggle for dignity and equality for all women everywhere. The United Nations declared July 12, 2013 Malala Day. This was the day she spoke at the UN addressing 500 young people with the support of the UN Secretary General.
Every Day is Malala Day by Rosemary McCarney with Plan International documents messages to Malala from young girls all over the world. This powerful text is presented to the reader with sometimes challenging sometimes moving photographic images. It appeals to a wide range of audiences. The images and the text work together to generate deep and heart-felt responses from the reader. Ultimately the simplicity of the girls’ ‘voices’ resonate loudly. As I read the ‘One child’ quote from Malala’s speech, my class of adolescent students clapped and stood - one-by-one. It lasted for over a minute. This has never happened in my thirty odd years of teaching. Here are some suggestions for classroom use at a variety of levels.
1. Meet the book
Before you read the book, talk about some of the ways we write to others - email, Facebook, text message, note, letter.
2. Read the title and identify Rosemary McCarney, with Plan International, as the author. Do the students know about Malala? Who is she? What have you seen or read about her in the news? List any prior knowledge on a piece of poster paper.
3. Look together at the image of Malala on the cover. Does the cover reveal anything about the book's contents?
4. Read the book in one session. After reading, invite the students to share their responses. Several themes will emerge from the conversation, and you may wish to summarise them on the board or on a piece of poster paper.
Here are some ideas:
How it feels to be denied the right to be educated
How it feels to be discriminated against or a target
How it feels to be supported by strangers wanting to help
How it feels to stand up for something you believe in
How it feels to make new friends in a new country
Here are some questions:
Have you ever thought about writing to a person you admire?
What are some of the ideas in the book that shock you?
What are some of the comments that please you?
5. Refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 26
(1) Everyone has the right to education.
Have you ever thought about what life would be like without being able to attend school or receive an education? What do you think would be some of the problems you might face? Would you risk your life for this right? Do you think Malala's father helped her to strive for her right to be educated? How is Malala like her father?
6. Review the letter format.
Are there other books that also use this technique?
Write a letter to Malala. What will you say? What questions could you ask her? E.g. What does it feel like to study in another country because your own country is unsafe? How do you handle the separation from friends and family?
7. Find out about Malalas blog.
Before you read, try to predict what it will say.
Write a blog about your school week.
8. Find out about Malalas speech to the UN.
As a class, produce a handwritten copy of the speech
9. Reflect on the book Every day is a Malala Day in in your learning journal.
What is a Malala Day? What does it ask of people?
Tips for reading aloud:
First, read the book yourself. Take time to think about what the story means to you, and what it might mean to your students. Incorporate those ideas when you read aloud. Extend the book.
• Create a single time line that combines the background information from introduction and the conclusion. Talk about what events happened in the past and what is happening to Malala at present. Find the places on a map.
• Write Malala's Diary as she is at present i.e. living in Birmingham. Comment on how life is for her in the present.
• Make a list of the things that Malala might have in Birmingham. Make a suitcase from a cardboard box and 'pack it'. Draw pictures of the items or contribute actual items you find at home or in the classroom.
• Malala knows the power of words. Listen to the speech she delivered on her 16th birthday to the UN Youth Assembly. Gather together some appropriate art reproductions, illustrations or photographs that depict the power of her words. 'One child, teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.' Can the students write or tell stories about what they see. What is so powerful about the words? What do the words convey that the images can't?
• Check out any available materials on Malala and Malala Day. E.g. BBC News. Look up her village in Pakistan on Google Earth. Try to imagine what a day in her village would be like compared to where you live. What do you observe about the buildings, the terrain? Look for examples of the Pashto alphabet so students can see for themselves the letters that Malala first had to write. Ask around to find a person who speaks and writes Pashto. See if he or she can visit the classroom and share the language with the students. Perhaps he or she can describe life in his or her hometown.
Things to think about and talk about
Every Day is Malala Day takes the form of letter to Malala. As a picture book it also has the capacity to captivate through beautiful, meaningful photographic images and appeals to a wide range of readers - both primary and secondary. McCarney's book demonstrates that the human spirit can transcend hardship and discrimination.
Ask the students to think about times when they felt they were being discriminated against on the basis of gender or race. Talk about how the experience made them feel. What or who helped them during this time? Or did it just take time to feel comfortable? Talk about some special phrases that people or parents may say to help you feel better. Some examples might be, "This too shall pass," "Tomorrow will be better."
Jane Beatty, North Lake, Kardinya WA
Every Day is Malala Day is a beautiful photographic 'Thank you' from millions of girls from around the world to Malala. This book quickly explains the horrific experiences that Malala and her friends encountered on the terrible day when they were targeted by the Taliban. It immediately allows the audience to understand the challenges that this young lady faced and why she is a true inspiration to women everywhere.
The text uses dramatic photographs from around the world to demonstrate the horrible conditions in which many young women still find themselves and brings up the themes of denied education, early marriage, poverty, discrimination and violence which are so evident and widely encountered in a variety of countries. Through drawing attention to the challenges that girls face this text exposes readers to the need for all to work together to improve the lives of children.
I can see that this short text would be a wonderful addition to a Prejudice unit for year 9 or 10 students. The photos could be used as visual texts while the language could encourage research and writing based exercises looking at the idea of “Sexism” in different societies. Likewise, I can see how this book would enhance a 'Cultural identity' unit if used as related material. Its simplistic language makes it accessible to almost all high school students but its serious and important nature make it a valuable text for students to analyse, discuss and research. I look forward to challenging my students to consider Plan's (International charity) global initiative to end gender inequality and also encourage my classes to use this idea as the basis of project based learning.
On a personal note, this is an incredible read, which inspires women to work together for the benefit of all. It reminds us that education is worth fighting for and that a day at school is always valuable. Pick it up and give it a go. You won't regret it.
Tanya Davies, Ku-ring-gai Creative Arts High School, NSW
The message delivered by this photographic book is intensely powerful. Images of girls around the world of varying ages, colours, cultures and status are used to impress upon the reader the importance of education and giving women a voice. Although the text is simple and the illustrations take up most of the page I can envisage using this book to work on Values in both S and E and English. IT would also work well when analysing images as each photo contains many hints about the society within which the girls live.
Peta Harrison, Albany
This book would be fabulous for just the right audience, it is, appropriately given the real life events surrounding its creation, confronting. It tells the true story of Malala the girl shot in the head by the Taliban for wanting to go to school. The pictures of girls from around the world and the message that they have a right to education and self determination is powerfully portrayed, it is indeed a plea from the heart of woman -kind to those who would limit a girl’s freedom. The figures and facts are quite horrifying to someone who has never had to fight to be educated, millions of girls denied education because of their gender. This book would be a great discussion starter for high school students looking at how people live around the world, it would be a great stimulus into a discussion about freedom versus oppression, perhaps in a philosophy for kids session. I would suggest that anyone wanting to use it in the classroom reads it thoroughly first, Malala is an eloquent advocate for her cause but the facts speak for themselves, her outspoken-ness has cost her dearly. This book is a valuable tool in the fight for universal education for girls. I can see it being used as a stimulus for persuasive writing.
Wendy Fletcher, Bellerive Primary, Hobart, Tasmania
In my Year 11 class the other day we were reading a feature article about the experience of females in a different culture. The discussion naturally evolved into one about Australian Society’s shared values about females and the appreciation that my students hold for their own situation. It is all too easy for students to forget that their experience is not necessarily the experience of other – male and female – students, and indeed people, throughout the world.
The story of Malala Yousafzai is a story of inspiration for all young people and one that they should know. The autobiography I A Malala is a wonderful text with a powerful message, but it is not a text that is accessible for all students. The release of Every Day is Malala Day now gives teachers another way of exploring Malala’s story. Her story is an important one to explore, as it gives teachers the opportunity to raise awareness of the issues of equality and fairness that we value so much in our society, but also the power of the individual to bring about change.
Every Day Is Malala Day is a beautiful book that encompasses voices and images of girls from all over the world. The text commences with “Dear Malala, we have never met before, but I feel like I know you.” This opening immediately signals the universal themes that speak to all readers and all ages: a life free from poverty, discrimination and violence, and the right of access to education and free speech. This book provides the opportunity for teachers to both reinforce the importance of these values and to enable students – of all ages – to understand the importance of protecting and valuing these rights. The use of a letter structure is very effective as the voice of the writer resonates with the reader and reminds us that girls all over the world have similar desires to our own.
This text naturally lends itself to the cross-curriculum priority of Asia in the Australian Curriculum. The text would work in a variety of contexts and would work as both an individual picture book study or as part of a thematic study of human rights or issues. I will definitely be using the text with my Secondary English students and my daughters (ages 7 and 10) absolutely loved the text, so much so that we then watched Malala’s UN speech!
Lisa Black, English Teacher, Kelmscott SHS
This wonderful book should have a place in every school library. The text takes the form of a letter to the inspirational 16 year old Malala Yousafzai and is accompanied by beautiful photography collected from around the world by aid group, PLAN International. The book opens with a short background to Malala’s story for young readers. The simple letter that follows gives a poignant introduction and reminder of the difficulties confronting many girls around the world wanting to go to school. The book concludes with excerpts from Malala’s speech to the United Nations’ Youth Assembly on July 12, 2013.
Every Day is Malala Day addresses important global concerns and issues in a way that is immediately accessible and has a strong impact on the reader. It is a book that can be read and shared across multiple levels, from early years to high school. The story has cross-curricular applications and could form the basis of a unit of work itself, or accompany investigations into global inequality, aid organisations, the International Rights of the Child and the United Nations Millennium Goals at a secondary or upper primary level. All students can engage with Malala Day and the International Day of the Girl. The book also could be used to support the cross-curriculum priority of Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia.
Lyn Pritchard, Teacher Librarian, Hunter Valley Grammar, NSW
Every Day is Malala Day is written by Rosemary McCarney with Plan International. It is a human rights story that celebrates the brave actions of a young Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai, who spoke out publicly for the entitlement of all girls to an education. The Taliban tried to silence Malala and two of her friends by shooting them. They survived and are living in England. Malala continues to spread her message.
Every Day is Malala Day is a letter from girls all around the world to Malala showing their support for her and her message.In their letter to Malala they tell her how she is a leader to them and that by standing up for what she believes in has reminded them also that it is their right and every child’s right to an education. It has given them courage to do the same and not to live in fear. The author has written about the way girls have been silenced in countries all around the world, through marriage, poverty, discrimination and violence.
The language used in this book is easy for all children to understand. The photographs tell the story vividly and add to the meaning of the text. The author, in conjunction with Plan, has delivered a beautiful book of awareness about the plight of many girls in countries all over the world. I recommend this book to students in Upper Primary to High School students. I have seen this book being used in Years 5-6 in English and Religion.
Elizabeth Cook, NSW
The opportunity to have such a provocative book available when studying Human Rights has arrived! The images alone tell the story of opening doors. When read in context with the speech to the United Nations Youth Assembly, it takes on a whole new perspective. I am often sceptical about texts that exploit religious difference because our global society is struggling with intolerance – we must remember that terrorism is the antithesis of freedom fighting. This is the point where my perspective came unstuck. Ignore the name of the group. Ignore the skin colours. Listen to the message. The message is very strong, “Education is the only solution. Education first.”
I used this text with a Year 11/12 class as a stimulus. The conversation was far-reaching: from the quality of the class rooms to the prospect of early marriage – this made even the boys cringe! The photo on the page (… discrimination …) was the most popular. The photographs are excellent but my college students noted the absence of Western country representation – where poverty similarly leads to ignorance, violence and discrimination.
The speech is a poignant model for powerful language; the book a lovely model for multi-modal texts. I recommend this to K-12 teachers, to teachers of values education and to professionals looking to build a better world – a world of tolerance and understanding; a world where the individual is valued as a person and an equal.
Michael Cruickshank, Hellyer College, Tasmania