Malala Yousafzai Warrior with Words Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Human Rights
by Karen Leggett Abouraya - A guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book about real-life Malala Yousafzai. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to learn about the courage of a young girl from Pakistan who spoke about human rights in front of the United Nations and the world.

In this book, we learn the true story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pashtun Muslim girl living in Pakistan who was shot for daring to be a girl demanding an education. Malala survived and decided to speak up for human rights and the right to universal childhood education. Her path inspires others to have courage and take action to confront systems that are not just. She shows perseverence when a physical disability threatened to slow her down. 

Before Reading

Ask: Have you heard of a girl named Malala? She became very famous when she spoke in front of the United Nations asking that all children around the world be allowed to go to school in peace. Some areas believe girls shouldn't go to school, and in some areas children are forced to go to work instead of school. Why is it important that all children are allowed to go to school? What might happen if children are unable to attend school?

Show: The art in this book is made in collage. Notice the materials used and the details that illustrate culture and mood.

Connect: A warrior is usually someone who fights with weapons in a war. What do you think it means to be a warrior with words?

During Reading

Ask: What are the events that led to Malala writing a blog and then getting shot? After she recovered, she immediately decided to use her voice (and pen) to make change. 

Show: Notice the changes in color in the art. How do the colors reflect the story?

Connect: An advocate is someone who uses their voice to recommend change. What is an issue or injustice you'd like to see changed and for which you would be willing to use your voice?

After Reading

Ask: Malala inspired many people around the world to hold rallies and donate money to give more girls the opportunity to go to school. Why do you think they listened to a young girl? 

Show: Read the back pages about taking action. These are nonprofits organizations that have a mission related to Malala's advocacy. Which mission stands out to you and why?

Connect: What do these words mean to you? "One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world." What is one small thing a child or a group of young people can do to make a change?


  1. Make a poster with a simple image and statement asking people to pay attention or take action for an issue that matters to you. This guide can help. 
  2. Use collage materials to make an image of yourself. Use colors and symbols to illustrate what is true about you.
  3. Research the Nobel Peace Prize. Describe the purpose of the award.
  4. Research the global issue of child labor. Find out what conditions lead to children working instead of going to school. Learn about an organization that helps children escape that life. 
  5. This Arab American Philanthropy organization empowers Arab American youth to take action. Watch the video about how they tackle issues through service and grantmaking. 
  6. Islamaphobia is the mistaken idea that people who are Arab American are dangerous or not trustworthy. We can work against that idea by learning about Muslim culture and sharing books and information and speaking with respect about people from all cultures.