The Taliban thought bullets would silence Malala Yousafzai.
But instead they made her voice stronger, and today the teenager from
Pakistan is known worldwide as a transformative advocate who embodies
the power of education for girls.
Her book, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” is the latest selection for Go Big Read, UW-Madison’s common-reading program.
Go Big Read organizers encouraged the campus community to suggest
titles that fit into a theme of service. Chancellor Rebecca Blank chose
“I Am Malala” from the short list that a selection committee culled from
nearly 200 nominated titles.
“Malala’s story offers our students and campus community a firsthand
account from a part of the world that is continuously in the news,”
Blank says. “Readers will connect with these experiences through her
convincing description of how she became a voice of protest against the
social restrictions she faced. Her story will lead our students to
reflect on the opportunities they have to use their own voice in the
Yousafzai begins the book, co-written with British journalist
Christina Lamb, by recounting the moment she was shot in the head in
October 2012 on her way home from school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The
rest of the book retraces the events that led up to that moment in a
region that is one of the world’s hotspots.
“It is difficult to imagine a chronicle of a war more moving, apart
from perhaps the diary of Anne Frank,” said a review in The Washington
Post. Time Out New York said Yousafzai’s touching story, “will not only
inform you of changing conditions in Pakistan, but inspire your
Yousafzai was 11 when she began writing a blog anonymously for the
BBC, describing life under Taliban rule from her hometown of Mingora, in
the northwest region of Pakistan.
She was awarded the country’s National Peace Award in 2012, which has
since been renamed the National Malala Peace Prize.She was nominated
for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 and was recently named by TIME
magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She and
her family now live in England, where she continues to go to school.
“Let us pick up our books and our pens,” the now 16-year-old told
young leaders from 100 countries at the United Nations Youth Assembly in
New York last year. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one
teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the
Patrick McBride, associate dean for students at the UW School of
Medicine and Public Health and a member of the selection committee, said
the story will remind readers why they can’t take their right to an
education for granted.
“The rights of women, and the values of freedom, family, and
education are championed by this remarkable family,” McBride says.
“While the title sounds simple, when we read in the introduction
of where those words are spoken, it will bring chills to the reader and
become a cry for freedom around the world.”
Karen Crossley, associate director of operations for the Morgridge
Center for Public Service, also served on the selection committee and
says Yousafzai being close in age to most UW undergraduates will capture
the attention of students.
“Malala’s commitment to composing a better world defines service in a highly personal way,” Crossley says.
Planning is underway for how students, faculty and staff will use the
book in classrooms and for special events associated with “I Am
Yousafzai will be in her senior year of high school and therefore
unable to come to campus, but organizers are arranging for a speaker
connected to the book who will give a public talk this fall.
UW-Madison instructors interested in using the book can request a review copy here.
Copies of the book will be given to first-year students at the
Chancellor’s Convocation for New Students and to students using the book
in their classes.
Jenny Price, UW-Madison University Communications