BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story by Rebecca Langston-George, illustrated by Janna Bock

For the Right to Learn by Rebecca Langston-George on BookDragonAs deemed in 2011 by the United Nations, October 11 is the International Day of the Girl. BookDragon is officially whoo-hooo-ing a day later (although I’m all for every day being IDG anyway!).

Perhaps the world’s most recognized ‘girl’ is Malala Yousafzai who, at 15, was shot three times by the Taliban on her way to school. Evacuated out of her native Pakistan to Birmingham, England, she not only recovered, but appeared before the United Nations less than a year later to give her famed speech: “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” The following year, she became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, speaking for children everywhere: “This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace, It is for those voiceless children who want change.”

Written for younger readers, For the Right to Learn is a timely introduction to the life of an international hero who is not much older than the book’s intended audience. From her early years under the tutelage of her father who insisted and enabled her education, to her international debut around the world via a BBC blog when she was just 11, to her wish for peace on her 12th birthday which no one remembered to celebrate, much of the book recounts Malala’s life before the Taliban made her a target.

Author Rebecca Langston-George carefully highlights the many accomplishments, recognition, awards, and fame that nearly cost Malala her life. Artist Janna Bock is especially adept at capturing Malala’s expressions – just take a look at that hopeful determination on the cover image. With richly detailed. multi-layered backgrounds, Bock adds glimpses of what’s happening beyond windows, hints at lurking shadows, and crowds a hospital room with all the well-wishing gifts for an injured young girl not yet awake.

Not yet even out of her teens, Malala’s story has really just begun … her determination to learn – and keep learning at any cost – is inspiration, at any age, for us all.

Readers: Children, Middle Grade

Published: 2015


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