I’m not usually one to review books especially children’s books for that matter but I was so touched at my daughter’s responses to these two books and how these stories create the opportunity of discussion that I just had to share. Reading with my daughter was and is a huge deal in our house. Together before bed we will read a story together. A lot of our reading was made possible by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library which is a book gifting program that gifts free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Republic of Ireland. And no, this blog post isn’t sponsored. I just think it’s a wonderful thing to allow children to get free books at such a young age. Books is also something I tell friends and family to get her for birthdays and Christmas when they ask. A girl can never have enough books. The first book was gifted to us by my daughters God parents. The second one is from Dolly’s Imagination Library.
Let’s get to the actual books and the reasons behind why I was so inspired to write this blog post.
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
If you don’t know who Malala Yousafzai is you may have been living under a rock the past couple of years.. No but really. Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education. As a young girl defied the Taliban in Pakistan and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education. She was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 (at just 14 years old) but after weeks of intensive care she survived. In 2014, she became the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize. As of this year, she has graduated with a Philosophy, Politics and Economics degree from Britain’s Oxford University. Also, since then she has written at least 5 books, one of them being her autobiography released in 2013 titled “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban”.
Malala’s Magic Pencil is an emotionally and beautifully written story inspired by true events and dreams that Malala herself had as a young girl living in Pakistan. This beautifully illustrated picture book tells Malala’s story and shows the worldview that allowed her to hold on to hope and to make her voice heard even in the most difficult of times. As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil that she could use to redraw reality. She would use it for good purposes. She would erase all of the bad in the world and replace them with better things. In the book she talks about the true difference she has made through advocacy and inspires those reading to do the same. She discusses how education helped her reach out to thousands and how she was using her voice to speak up for al the girls in er valley that couldn’t speak for themselves.
“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.“
In my opinion, this book helps shine a light on the importance of education and how we as American’s can sometimes take free education for granted. Especially now in a time where schools aren’t fully opened and a lot of school is being done online. The resouces to allow our children to continue their education even in the midst of a pandemic is amazing and I am so grateful for all of the teachers, educators and all of those involved to make it possible for our children. I know as a parent (especially a working parent) it can be difficult to keep up with and certainly a hassel at the beginning but ultimately it is such a blessing.
Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBriar
Beatrice’s Goat is based on the true account of Beatrice Biira, an impoverished Ugandan girl whose life is transformed by the gift of a goat from the nonprofit world hunger organization Heifer International. More than anything, Beatrice longs to be a schoolgirl. But in her small African village, only children who can afford uniforms and books can go to school. Instead, she spends her days caring for her younger siblings and helping in the fields on their small plot of land. Then one day, Beatrice’s family receives a precious gift from a charity–a goat! In time, the goat provides milk to sell as well as baby goats, and soon the family has earned enough money so Beatrice can go to school.
It was amazing to receive this book because each week while at church we would use a cute little hand woven basket and passed it around during the offering plate and people would put their spare change and dollars in there. We would usually get one of the younger kids to pass it around and everyone thought it was adorable. Later the youth would count it up and add it to a fund that was set aside for Heifer International. Once we accumulated enough money the kids would then get to choose which animal we can purchase for a family in need. In the pages where you choose your animal it tells you what it provides for the family in need. It was very interesting but it’s also so important to understand the difference we can make to one family. This book gives you an inside perspective that most people may not see.
Both of these books shine a light on the differences of education in other countries and how it can be so easy to take education for granted especially at a young age. Sure our system may be broken but it’s trying and most places are doing what they can to provide for the children.
What would you draw if you had a magic pencil? Have you heard of heifer international before? Let me know what you think in the comments!