The Brown Baggers pick each year’s book selections in December of the previous year (stay tuned — this is coming up soon!), so it was good luck and good timing that October’s selection was I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. You may remember JMRL’s recent blog post about books by Nobel Prize winners. Mere days before our discussion, Malala Yousafzai was named as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Kailash Satyarthi from India, another advocate and activist for children’s rights.
Before we began, we watched a short interview with Malala featured on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The announcement of Nobel Prize was fresh in our minds as we kicked off our discussion. At 17, Yousafzai is the youngest person ever awarded the prize. It was especially astonishing to consider after viewing this interview with her at age 16, where she is poised and eloquent in her arguments.
The Brown Baggers next discussed Yousafzai’s family and background. While her father shares her passion for education, founding schools and acting as a teacher and principal, her mother was illiterate for a long time (but is apparently in the process of learning now). We noted that even with those disparities, both lovingly encouraged Malala to study and speak out for education. It was also pleasantly surprising to many group members, based on previous cultural perceptions, that the Yousafzai family had these attitudes. Reading nonfiction with the Brown Baggers group is sometimes a bit of a gamble. If the subject is interesting and is handled well by the author, we can have a great discussion — luckily, that was the case here! Perhaps reading a memoir by a current, newsworthy figure was the key here.
Join the Brown Baggers on November 20th at noon to read The Good Lord Bird by James McBride.
Malala Yousafzai on the Nobel Prize website.
Short New York Times documentary recommended by a group member (30 minutes)