In recent months, the Taliban in the Middle East has taken over once again after American troops removed themselves. The first person I thought of was Malala Yousafzai and what in the world she was going to do about this. Her story is one of strength under impossible torture and pain.


Malala was targeted and attacked by the Taliban as a young girl because of her father’s involvement in allowing girls to get an education in her region of Pakistan and her own beliefs that matched his. Education wasn’t the only thing the Taliban forbade women and girls from enjoying; music and going to the market were forbidden as well. Because of her upbringing and her beliefs, Malala became a voice for change in Pakistan and she almost lost her life in 2012 because of it when the Taliban overtook her school bus and shot her point-blank in the face.


Miraculously she survived and has become an icon, fighting for peace, education, and change.


On the first anniversary of the tragic day, Malala gave a speech at the United Nations, which is highlighted in the last chapter in I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition).

Dear brothers and sisters,

Do remember one thing. Malala Day is not my day.

Today is the day of every woman, every boy, and every girl who has raised their voice for their rights. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists, and millions have been injured.
I am just one of them.

So here I stand…one girl among many.

I speak not for myself, but for all girls and boys.

I raise up my voice not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.

Those who have fought for their rights:

Their right to live in peace.

Their right to be treated with dignity.

Their right to equality of opportunity.

Their right to be educated.

On the ninth of October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends, too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed. And then, out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought that they would changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power, and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.

One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world. (191–192) 


Mini Lesson:

  • Have students brainstorm in small groups what they stand for. What is a core belief that they have? What is their strongest passion in life?

  • Then invite students to write a short inspiration speech expressing how they grew to have this passion, belief, or stance. Have them take Malala’s tone of voice: try to inspire people or leave them thinking about their own passions or beliefs.
    • Some requirements could be:
      • At least a half page long, one page at the longest.
      • Separated into paragraphs, using transitions correctly.
      • Inspirational or motivational tone.
      • Use of personal experience or stories to describe how their passion/belief came about.
      • Conclusion with an action step for their listeners to go out and do something to help the cause or belief they have spoken about.

Download the pdf to easily print or save!




Jennifer Epping is a high school English and journalism teacher in Des Moines, Iowa. She has a passion for reading, writing, and making lame jokes to her students just to see them laugh or roll their eyes. She just concluded her ninth year teaching. Epping graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in journalism and mass communication (2010) and BA in English Education (2013). She attended New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute (2010), and spent some time in children’s book publishing in New York