Text, cover art, and illustrations copyright © 2017 by Salarzai Limited. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

For Elementary Readers

Malala’s Magic Pencil

As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true.

Apply in the Classroom

Malala writes that she hopes that readers will realize that every pencil can be magic because the real magic is “in you, in your words, in your voice.” Children need opportunities to talk about issues that concern them and to be involved in broader issues that affect them. Talk to students about what it means to speak up for something you believe in. Encourage discussion about issues that affect them and let students brainstorm ways they can effectively share their insights and ideas and use their voices to be heard. If there is something they wish to speak out about, help them find ways to add their voice and to connect with others who share their concerns.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

Do you believe in magic?

What are some different meanings of the word “magic”?

What are human rights?

How do human rights work?

What are some opportunities for you to speak up and make a difference?

Related Teaching Resources

Malala’s Magic Pencil: Teaching Guide from Penguin UK

One Person Makes a Difference lesson plan from Teach Peace Now

Social Justice Lesson Plans from NEA

Foster student voice with low-stakes writing assignments from Edutopia

Reading Is Fundamental support materials

Malala Yousafzai Biography video from Biography.com

“An Ordinary Hero” video from the Joan Trumpauer Mulholland Foundation

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She Stood for Freedom by Loki Mulholland

That’s Not Fair / No Es Justo! Emma Tenayuca’s Struggle for Justice by Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Tenayuca

Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle

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