Every Day is Malala Day (Second Story Press, 2014) is a picture book detailing a (symbolic) letter written to Malala Yousafzai by girls from all over the world in response to her advocacy for girls’ education. (The United Nations declared last year that July 12, Malala’s birthday, would be celebrated as Malala Day.) The book features photographs of young girls from around the world, with each page containing a single phrase or line of text from the letter, finishing off with excerpts from Malala’s 2013 speech at the UN.
It’s a beautiful book, with an inspiring message of solidarity and hope (“Girls everywhere are behind you. We are raising our hands with you…as you represent all of us.The world will see what girls can achieve-if only they let us.”) The photographs are lovely–there are girls from all over the world, variously naughty, steely-jawed, defiant, blank-faced, wary and fearful. The author, Rosemary McCarney, heads the Canadian chapter of Plan International, a charity seeking to improve the lives of children, and proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards the Because I am a Girl Fund.
Note that Every day is Malala Day is the sort of kids’ book that must be read with an adult who will illuminate and comfort along the way. The suggested reading age is 5-8, but I’d lean towards 8-10. Although the narrative is structured in the manner of a picture book, the topics and vocabulary aren’t picture book-ish at all, and many concepts are stated in an abstract fashion that confounded my just-turned-seven child. “In many countries, bullets are not the only way to silence girls. Early marriage… poverty… discrimination… violence… all play a part.” My son didn’t understand a thing. But the subtlety and complexity of this work in no way lessens its value. Every Day is Malala Day is a tool that works best in adult hands–to build a story for children.