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Books that Inspire Kids to Learn

Many thanks to Hallmark for sponsoring this post and helping to create communities where all children have the chance to grow up as healthy, productive & caring persons.  All book choices and thoughts are mine alone.


Today’s book list was inspired by a young lady who fights for quality education for all children around the world.

Malala Yousafzai was 15 when she was shot by the Taliban for attending school in Pakistan.  It was against the law for girls to go to school and yet, every morning Malala would get up and not only get herself to school but encourage other girls in her village to attend as well.  She survived the attack and has since become the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient who now travels the world with her father to share their story.

In honor of both Malala & Ziauddin Yousafzai, I wanted to share a book list that will inspire kids to speak up for what they believe, to change the world and to appreciate the opportunity to get an education.


Books that Inspire Kids to Learn and go to school

Books that Inspire Kids to Learn

I had the priviledge of seeing Malala & Ziauddin Yousafzai this past week thanks to Hallmark, who was one of the sponsors of Chat 2.0 in Kansas City.  They inspired an audience of educators, policy makers and youth as they shared their message of empowerment and how education can enable girls to be change-makers in their communities.

Malala shared about a number of countries where girls are not allowed to attend school or are discouraged from getting an education because of their responsibilities to their family.  As an educator and a Mom, it was truely heart-breaking to know how many children in this world WANT to go to school and are not able to get an education.  And even though they were educating the audience about girls who are not receiving any schooling, their message was clearly about providing 12 years of quality education for all!

And yet so many of us take education for granted in countries where it is so freely offered.

My hope is that the books on our list will inspire children to both appreciate the education they receive and to learn how to speak up for what they believe in from a young age.  We’ve included affiliate links for each of the recommended books so you can learn more about which to add to your reading list.

First, a few books about Malala becuase I think every child should read about this amaing 19 year old — she’s an amazingly down-to-earth person.  Not only was I impressed by her but my 19-year-old son who attended the talk was also very impressed with her candidness and easy-going personality.


Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words is perfect for kids ages 4 – 8 years old.  The book shares her bravery and story in a format that can be understood by young children without invoking fear. 


For ages 8 – 12 years old, I recommend For the Right to Learn: Malala Yousafzai’s Story. The illustrations are wonderful and there’s more detail in this story since kids of this age will have more questions.  The story focuses on courage and gives more details about how one person’s words and convictions can make a difference in the world.


For teens, I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World is a chapter book that shares the story of her life in Swat Valley, Pakistan and how she began to speak out for education in her country.  This is a Young Readers edition of her famed memoir which includes pictures and other materials that I feel make the story come to life for teen readers.


And I needed to include a more general book on our list about what school looks like because I believe it’s important that kids SEE education will look different around the world.  A School Like Mine: A Unique Celebration of Schools Around the World is great for kids of any age as it highlights what different classrooms and school days are like for kids from different countries.

If your child is interested in education around the world, be sure to see our Schools Around the World post too.


As a more general introduction to the idea of being a change-maker, A is for Activist is a more unique book about the different ways, words and tactics used to introduce others to a message.  Although this is a board book and can be read to the younger set, the language and discussion it invokes better fits for ages 8 – 12 years in my opinion.  Lots of pictures and rhymes introduce kids to political, environmental and community movements that have taken place throughout history.


Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan is another wonderful picture book about a young girl who is forbidden from attending school.  I love the strength and bravery that’s shown by Nasreen’s grandmother as she finds a way to help her granddaughter go to school.  But be warned that it’s also a sad story (but not too sad for ages 4 – 10 years) that introduces kids to the idea that families can be separated. 


Ruby’s Wish is an old favorite of ours!  The book shows that the desire for girls to want an education has spanned time.  Based on a true story (which you are able to read at the end of the book), Ruby doesn’t want to get married but instead wants to attend University like the boys in her family.  She finds her voice through a poem she shares with Grandfather and the reader sees that she is rewarded with her dream. 


The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is a modern chapter book about a girl that grows up at the end of the 19th century when it was proper for girls to become mothers and not scientists.  Calpurnia loves to explore the outdoors, is intrigued by her grandfather’s laboratory and yearns to learn more about the world.  Another book that shares how a male role model can impact the educational goals of a young girl.


One of my favorite quotes from the Chat 2.0 event was the following —




Malala’s father shared a very moving thought during the talk — he said that he believed you should not ‘clip a child’s wings’, you should let them form thoughts and opinions and share those ideas. 

The books on our list will do just that — inspire thoughts, opinions and discussion about how children, no matter how old, can indeed change the way the world works.

Read on & change the world!

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More Wonderful Booklists for Kids

30 Books about Cultures & Countries around the World

Kids Books about Schools around the World