Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Reading comprehension

Malala Yousafzai has been a hero of Miriam's for a long time. I'm not sure where she first heard of her, precisely, but I do know that she read and reread Who is Malala Yousafzai? last year, though we only got that book for her because she was obsessed with her story.

We picked up a copy of I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (the Young Reader's edition) at the library recently and she loved it. She kept coming to tell me something she found interesting or to read a sentence or two aloud to me. When she was finished she handed me the book and said, "You should read this next. I'm serious, Mom."

And so I read it next.*

I thought it was lovely. There were a lot of parts that I wanted to read aloud and remember for later, so many that I'm debating just buying the book so that I can look up passages again whenever I feel the need to.

I started the book last night—sitting on the floor beside Zoë's bed while she fell asleep—and I finished it this morning and put it into Rachel's eager hands.

"Have you gotten to the part where Malala gets shot yet?" Miriam asked.

"I'm past that part," I told her. "I already finished it and gave it to Rachel."

"Really?" Miriam was skeptical and started in on a line of questioning we've used on her dozens of times. "That's pretty fast to get through a book that thick. What movie did she choose to watch in her hospital room?"

"Shrek," I said.

"That's correct," she said, clearly taken aback. "I wasn't expecting that. Where does her family live now?"

"Birmingham, England," I said.

"Also correct. Hmmmm..."

After a few more questions she decided that I had indeed read the book. And I loved it!

Reading about Malala's childhood made me so grateful for what I have—the freedoms and possessions I take for granted. And that was before the Taliban even took over the Swat valley! Reading about her really discovering what terrorism was—"Terrorism is fear all around you. It is going to sleep at night and not knowing what horrors the next day will bring."—was chilling.

I can't even imagine it. Well, I can imagine it, but I'm fairly certain that my imagination does it no justice.

The book was published in 2014, so it's pretty current. It even has pictures of Malala in Jordan distributing supplies to Syrian refugees there, which is exactly where my mind sprang to when she said, "When you are caught between military and militants, there is no good."

The world is seriously such a mess. I was hardly online Sunday or Monday and when I finally got online my (Jordanian) friend's facebook status was, "Jordan, Ankara, Berlin," accompanied by a crying emoji. I had to go look up all these places in the news and the stories were a little crushing.

Staying away from the news has its perks because I can forget what is happening elsewhere—I can forget that the world is crashing down on someone else's shoulders while I am happily decorating sugar cookies with my friends and children—but, honestly, I think I like knowing. If I know I can speak up, I can pitch in, I can do my best to help. If I don't know...I can't.

My life has been a bed of roses compared to what Malala has gone through, so if she can remain optimistic about the future, surely I can, too!

* Rachel told me I should read the next Serafina book next and left it on my desk...but I haven't gotten around to that yet because I found Serafina only so-so. I was totally cool with it until the whole floating, life-sucking demon and catamount anamorph stuff. I thought it was going to be a lovely historical fiction piece but it ended up being...not that... So perhaps I'll get around to it one day...but I just haven't yet.

I also have to read the rest of the Princess Academy books, by her recommendation, as well.

All in good time, children. All in good time.

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