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The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai's We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories From Refugee Girls Around the World includes both her own story of being a displaced person and the first-person accounts of nine young women from Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, Columbia, Guatemala, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda. They share often terrifying stories of their escapes from towns, villages, and countries consumed by violence and the challenges of making new lives for themselves. Yousafzai's story (being shot by the Pakistani Taliban for speaking out about a girl's right to an education) will be familiar to many readers, but it's a powerful one that deserves retelling. Violence (bombings, the brutal killing of women and children, rapes) is a constant backdrop, but none of the incidents is vividly described. By using inspiring personal stories to highlight the global refugee crisis, Yousafzai more than fulfills her mission in writing the book: to help people "understand that refugees are ordinary people." An Epilogue updates readers on the lives of the nine girls. Proceeds from the book will be used to support the Malala Fund's work for girls' education.
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What's the story?
Malala begins WE ARE DISPLACED with her own story. When she was 11, she began writing an anonymous blog about life in the Taliban-controlled Swat Valley of Pakistan and speaking out for girls' right to an education. The Taliban responded four years later by shooting and almost killing her. Continuing to live in Pakistan proved too dangerous for her family and they were resettled in Great Britain, where they still live. In her travels around the world as an advocate for girls' education, Malala met with and heard the stories of countless girls. In We are Displaced, nine of them share their stories. When sisters Zaynab and Sabreen fled the civil war in Yemen to stay with family in Egypt, they assumed they'd travel on together to the United States and be reunited with their mother. But while Zainab was granted a visa, her sister's was denied for reasons never explained. As Zaynab built a new life for herself in Minneapolis, Sabreen became desperate, finally becoming one of the thousands who attempt to reach Europe in small overcrowded boats. After living under siege in war-torn Syria for two years, Muzoon and her family left everything behind and made their way to a refugee camp in Jordan. Najla and Maria are both still displaced within their own countries -- Najla in Iraq and Maria in Columbia. Analisa made the perilous journey from Guatemala, across Mexico and then across the border into Texas, only to be caught by Border Patrol agents. Marie Claire spent the first four years of her life on the run in the bush before her family escaped from Democratic Republic of Congo, only to find themselves unwanted as refugees in Zambia. Ajida and her family traveled nine days through the Myanmar jungle before reaching a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Farah (now CEO of the Malala Fund) and her family were forced to leave Uganda when she was 2, after the government gave all citizens of Asian descent 90 days to leave the country. The sole non-refugee story comes from Jennifer, a married mother of two teenagers, who (along with her family) volunteered to work with refugees newly arrived in Pennsylvania. Their first "match" was with Marie Claire and her family, and that story has a very happy ending.
Is it any good?
Through the inspiring stories of nine courageous girls, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai puts a young and relatable face on the world's refugee crisis. The stories recounted in We Are Displaced are simply but powerfully told, and teens will find they often have more in common with the girls (making plans for college, playing on a soccer team, feeling different or being bullied) than they thought possible. Updated photos of Malala and her family, Zainab, Muzoon, Maria, Najla, Ajida, and Marie Claire and Jennifer are included at the back of the book.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what the stories in We Are Displaced taught them about refugees. As of 2017, the United Nations counted 68.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, 25.4 million of them refugees. What do you think countries can do to find homes for so many millions of people?
Imagine you and your family had to flee from your home, taking with you only what you could carry. What would you take, and what would you be heartbroken to leave behind?
The lives of Jennifer and her family were profoundly changed when they volunteered to help Marie Claire and her family. Are there ways you and your family could help immigrants or refugees in your community?
- Author: Malala Yousafzai
- Genre: Biography
- Topics: Activism, Book Characters, Great Girl Role Models, History, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Non-Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: January 8, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
- Number of pages: 224
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: February 4, 2020
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