Photo: Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Claude Truong-Ngoc/Wikimedia Commons

Malala, Malala, Malala – this is a historic day! A child has just won the Nobel Peace Prize! Our heroine, Malala Yousafzai, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She shares the prize with Kailash Satyarthi. Children and parents everywhere on planet earth have a perfect bedtime story. The youngest ever recipient of the prize goes to a girl born and raised in Pakistan who was denied equal access to her education. I mean, really, whenever you think your child’s potential is bounded or someone in the community minimizes the importance of your child’s ideas or implies that their potential is truncated by their age, limited by their perspective, or premature because of their experience, we have a new story to tell. We have an extraordinary antidote to those who treat children as lesser citizens of the world.

Malala Yousafzai.

Malala, you amaze us and you open up doors for little girls and little boys everywhere. Parents and pediatricians can and will share the news with young children and teens who falter.

First off, don’t let her globe-trotting-book-writing-media-circus attention fool you into thinking she’s an adult. She found out about her Nobel while in class, a place where all the other 17 year-olds in our country get the opportunity to sit…

Malala has leveraged her skills as a brilliant communicator and wed it to the courage of a champion to change the world’s understandings and opportunities. We are all so lucky.

Quick Facts For Your Family About Malala Yousafzai:

  • Malala and her father report that part of her success is based on the reality that her “wings were not clipped.” More from her dad in this popular TEDtalk.
  • Malala is a world leader. Read Amy Davidson’s New Yorker article from earlier today as a reminder of her influence — note Davidson saying, “It is past time to stop seeing Malala as simply the girl who survived, as a symbol. (The Times called her a ‘global emblem.’) She is a girl who leads: who addressed the United Nations on her sixteenth birthday; who amazes Jon Stewart and asks Barack Obama about drones.”  Watch her interview on Jon Stewart for examples of her unflappable courage and determination.

Age-Appropriate Malala Bedtime Stories:

Age 2-5: There once was a little girl loved to go to school. But one day the rules changed where she lived and she was unable to attend school like she wanted because she was a girl. Her father took her to a big meeting in town and let her share her dream of going to school like all the boys. He never clipped her wings (this is where you explain what happens to birds with clipped wings). She then starting writing for the world. Today she won the biggest prize for making friends and treating friends with respect in the whole wide world, the Nobel Peace Prize, what an amazing girl! When you go to sleep tonight you can dream like Malala does. Think about being a bird with wings and harnessing superpowers that allow you to do anything in the world you want to make people happier and healthier. Wonder up and dream about what you’d do…

Age 5-8: A little girl loved to go to school. One day the rules changed where she lived and she was unable to attend school like she wanted because she was a girl. Her father took her to a big meeting in town and let her share her dream of going to school like all the boys. Then she wrote about her dream for the whole world to see. However some people didn’t respect her decision. In fact some people made it hard for her to go to school and tried to hurt her. Fortunately even when hurt she got the protection she needed to recover. She was very strong.  Now she speaks to people all over the world about how important school is for all children. She does this in part because her wings were never clipped (this is where you explain wing-clipping). She just won the biggest prize for making friends and treating friends with respect in the whole wide world, — it’s the Nobel Peace Prize. What an amazing girl! When you go to sleep tonight you can dream like Malala does. Think about being a bird with wings and use the superpowers (any you’d like) that will allow you to do anything in the world. Wonder up and dream about what you’d do.

Age 8-13: A little girl loved to go to school. One day the rules changed where she lived and she was unable to attend school like she wanted. Her father took her to a big meeting in town and let her share her dream of going to school like all the boys. She expressed a need for equality between boys and girls. Some people didn’t respect her decision so she started writing for the world. She used a different name, called a pen name, for privacy and protection. She wrote for a leading paper in Europe that is read worldwide. Trouble was, her opinions provoked those who disagreed with her to make it harder for her. Some people tried to hurt her and some succeeded. She fortunately had protection and care that she needed to recover. She was very strong.  Even after an injury that put her in the hospital she still speaks to people all over the world about how important her school is and how important it is to let all children get educated. She just won the biggest prize for making friends and treating friends with respect in the whole wide world, — it’s the Nobel Peace Prize. What an amazing girl! Dream tonight about what you’d do, without restriction to change the world.

Age 13 & Up: In my opinion, tell the whole story, Taliban attempted assassination and all. A girl gets denied what is fair, she partners with her father to speak up. He allows her space to be all she can be. She writes for the world. She gets shot and then gets healthcare to help her survive. She advocates for children everywhere. End the story with the potent reminder: she is your peer and you’re capable of the same good work. The world is for you to change…