Today I Read…Every Day is Malala Day

Everday is Malala DayToday I read Every Day is Malala Day by Rosemary McCarney with Plan International. It won the 2015 Golden Oak award from the OLA Forest of Reading.

Malala Yousafzi’s story is well-known, as the young girl who was shot by the Taliban for trying to go to school. She is now the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and she has become a symbol of the fight for the rights of girls and women and all children to get an education. Every Day is Malala Day is an open letter to Malala from girls around the world, expressing their admiration and their thanks for her continuing advocacy of education and peace. With beautiful photographs of girls from around the world illustrating their message, this book is a wonderful introduction for Western students of the challenges some children face just for trying to go to school.

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Disclaimer first: I was on the selection committee for the 2015 Golden Oak award, and I did recommend it for the list of finalists, which was then read and voted upon by the as a public. The Golden Oak award is for adults who are beginning to learn how to read English, so while I do refer to Every Day is Malala Day as a children’s book in this review, it is suitable for and enjoyed by adults as well.

This is a terrific story and a great introduction for children to some of the barriers that women face in other countries. As a read-aloud, it is more suited to older children. I would probably recommend at least ages 8+, based on the references to Malala being shot and violence against women. However, it’s important to point out that this is something that is actually happening to children, and sometimes there’s a very fine line between protecting children and being honest with them. When I was coaching a children’s literature trivia team, I had to try explain the Holocaust and Nazi propaganda to grade 3s. Not easy, but they asked.

The story itself is based on a short video produced by the young people who took over the UN on the first Malala Day, July 12, 2013. The book also includes a brief description of what happened to Malala and part of Malala’s speech to the UN from that day, advocating for education for all children as a way to help lift them out of poverty and ignorance and warfare. While she isn’t really in the daily news right now, Malala is an important figure for our time and I am certain that we will hear from her again. This book is an excellent introduction to her remarkable work.

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“So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens. They are out most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.” -Malala Yousafzai, July 12, 2013

 

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Today I Read…Made You Look

Today I read Made You Look: How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know by Shari Graydon and illustrated by Michelle Lamoreaux, the revised edition.

Made You LookHow many ads do you see in a day? Where do you see them? What are they for? How do they influence you? And why should you care?

Ads are everywhere in our everyday life, and they target you from birth to death, trying to sell you everything under the sun. Sometimes ads tell you important things like public awareness campaigns, and sometimes they just want to buy stuff you don’t really need. The important thing is to be a critical consumer–to think about ads and what they are trying to do and to make up your own mind. For a well-balanced look at an industry that effects and targets kids from a very young age, Made You Look is a great resource for kids to explain the ins and outs and tips and tricks of advertising, with funny and thought-provoking illustrations from Michelle Lamoreaux to accent the text.

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Sorry, I’ve been having laptop troubles, and I finally had to get a new one. Windows 8.1 is awfully finicky, though. Any tips to make it less sensitive and stop changing windows on me?

This is one of the books that I got from the OLA Super Conference this year. The cover grabbed my attention, with the confused look and the sea of advertising that the figure was surrounded by–it certainly feels like that sometimes, especially since I was in the middle of a trade floor at the time, where there were a thousand people present with booths all designed to sell things to librarians. Books, furniture, archival supplies, databases, library schools, magazines, audiobooks, ebooks, graphic novels, book-themed merchandise…we wee there because we were librarians, and the products that they were selling were of interest to us, but it’s very crowded with a lot of things to see all at once.

I really enjoyed this book. The language Graydon uses is plain and direct, and she poses a lot of hypothetical situations and simple experiments that encourage the reader to think about their own experiences and to recognize the effect that advertising can have on them. It points out different strategies, like using celebrities or cute cartoon characters to connect to kids, or showing toys dong things they can’t really do or with lots of accessories that are sold separately and can greatly increase the price of a toy. She uses charts to compare the arguments for and against advertising, explains some of the history of advertising and the laws and how they’ve changed over time, and lists some of the words ads use to persuade someone buy something and why they work. The cartoon-style illustrations are colourful and funny, but also do an excellent job of enhancing the text and illustrating the point in a different way (pun intended). This would be a great school library resource, or a book for a parent trying to show their child another way of thinking about advertising. It’s especially apropos at this time of the year, when advertising to children is ramped up so much, between Black Friday and Christmas.