We're kicking off our summer reading program with I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai, the story of a young woman who was shot by the Taliban because of her dedication to education. As we start reading the book, we'll post a list of questions to discuss in the comments below, as well as on Facebook and Twitter over the next few weeks, so keep your eye out for the hashtag #PHSummerReads to see what your fellow teachers are saying! We'll add more questions as the summer goes along, and we're giving our prizes to teachers with the best discussion topics!

The goal behind these questions is to spark conversation, not limit it, so if you have other thoughts and ideas, post away!

Discussion Questions

Week 1

  1. In the book's introduction, Malala tells the story of the Maasai, whose customs have changed to honor those with higher educations as warriors. How are global attitudes toward education changing? What can we do both locally and globally to facilitate change?
  2. The book's title is an answer to the question the gunman asks before shooting Malala. What is the significance of the title, and how are names significant throughout the book?
  3. Malala rejects certain elements of her culture while celebrating others. How can one make decisions about what elements of one's culture are good and what elements should change?

Week 2

  1. Malala's father faces increasing pressure to halt his daughter's education. At one point is it more appropriate to protect your loved ones than stand up for what you believe in? Would you risk the lives of your family for a cause you believed in?
  2. Malala's views on education are shaped by growing up with an educator. What made you dedicate your professional life to education? What passionate figures helped shape your life?
  3. Malala's father is dedicated to changing the way that people around Malala treat girls, but her mother lives a life guided by traditional gender roles. It's often easier for those on the outside to create change. What cultural inequities do others face in our society that we could help change?

Week 3

  1. Extremism enters the Swat valley slowly, and it appears that the majority of the population doesn’t hold to the extreme views of the Taliban, yet the Taliban come to dominate the daily lives of everyone. How did this happen? Do you think you would be able to recognize this if you were in that situation? What could you do to help combat the change?
  2. Malala titles Part V of her book, “A Second Life,” in which she creates a new life for herself in Birmingham and on a global stage. Have you ever gone through a major change in which you had to reinvent yourself? How did you look back on your past while setting up your life for the future?
  3. Are you considering teaching this book in your classroom? What texts would you pair with it? Do you have any activities you’d like to share with your fellow teachers?

Learn more about the Summer Reading Book Club.