Parents' Guide to

Malala's Magic Pencil

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 5+

Nobel winner tells what inspired activism in relatable tale.

Malala's Magic Pencil Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 5+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 5+

age 5+

Truth that kids can digest

Malala tells the bold un-pretty truth of her life and others. She makes it appropriate for young children but still maintains the power of her influence. She incourages children to find and use their voice to make a difference. My daughter (5) loved it and wants to learn to write so she can make a difference.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (1 ):

You can't ask for a better female role model than young Pakistani education advocate Malala Yousafzai, and this picture book autobiography's a perfect introduction. Malala's Magic Pencil is told in her voice and focuses on her childhood, making her relatable. She wants a magic pencil like she saw on TV so she can "put a lock on my door so my brothers couldn't bother me," and draw "a proper ball, so my brothers and I no longer had to play with an old sock stuffed with rubbish." But when Malala speaks out for education, adults will understand from the illustration that she's speaking on an international stage and at the United Nations, and will know the horrific story of how the Taliban shot her. The book wisely allows families to choose how to introduce the more violent and upsetting details.

The art is by Kerasoët, a pseudonym for a husband-wife illustration duo, and it's hugely appealing, giving glimpses of Pakistani life and culture. Malala looks like the smart, strong girl most kids would want to be friends with. Though the text never mentions she's Muslim, Malala's pictured wearing a headscarf whenever she's outside. And while her magic pencil draws her wishes in gold, we see the dusty streets, some buildings in rubble, and the "dangerous men" on the street with weapons slung over their shoulders. Biographical notes and photos give the story deeper context.

Book Details

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