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Malala's Magic Pencil

When teaching grade seven, I often use picture books for a variety of reasons. They are good texts for reading aloud and modeling skills, like drawing inferences or making connections. Sometimes they are useful for introducing a topic in highly visual ways. At other times, they serve as engaging texts that can lead to valuable discussions.

Malala's Magic Pencil is a picture book that can be used for all three reasons. Written by Malala Yousafzai and illustrated by Kerascoët, it tells the true story of Malala and her fight for girls' right to education. Written with a younger audience in mind, it describes how a young Malala went from wanting a magic pencil to solve her problems, to working hard and speaking out to make change. The theme is a powerful one and I particularly liked the gorgeous illustrations.

The book is appropriate for elementary school students, as the attack against Malala is not shown. When using it with my middle school students, it helped foster discussion about human rights around the world and how people can work to improve the world. It is a good jumping off point to learning more about Malala's life.