This post lists 3 Biographies written with young readers as the target audience. The main characters in these non-fiction books are women born in the Middle East, which is a transcontinental region partly in North Africa, partly in Southeast Europe, and partly in West Asia.
Malala’s Magic Pencil
, by Malala Yousafzai, Illustrated by Kerascoet
- Lexile Measure: 740L
- Grade interested: K-3
- Setting: Pakistan
- Cultural group: Pakistani children
- In this sensible autobiography, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai tells her story with a juvenile audience in mind. The book is inspired in her childhood. The pages are beautifully illustrated in watercolor and golden ink and it shows the wealth of Malala’s dream. When she was a child, she wanted to have a magic pencil that would make drawings come true. She learned, then, that she can have a magic pencil if her writing and her voice are used to bring peace to the world.
Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan
, by Jeanette Winter
- Lexile Measure: 630L
- Grade interest: 1-4
- Setting: Afghanistan
- Cultural group: Afghan women
- This book was commissioned by the Global Fund for Children and tells the story of a grandmother who chosen to defy the Taliban and send her granddaughter to a secret school in a time when women were forbidden to study or to even walk unattended on the street of Afghanistan. For her safety, Nasreen’s real name is not mentioned. Her story is beautifully written and illustrated to show the world the trouble girls have to go through to have some education in that country. Although sad, this is a story of hope and of how education can set people free.
The World is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid
, by Jeanette Winter
- Lexile Measure: 760L
- Grade interest: K-3
- Setting: Iraq
- Cultural group: Iraqi women
- Jeanette Winter tells the story of Zaha Hadid, a creative architect born in Iraq. Zaha challenged the world of architecture with her revolutionary designs inspired by the shapes she found in Nature. Despite all the criticism she received for being an Arab woman and for designing buildings with organic shapes, she went on to become respected all around the world. Her buildings can be found in Qatar, in the United Arab Emirates, in China, in Italy, in Austria, and in Cambodia. Zaha is an inspiration. Even though she received many nos, she never gave up on her dreams. She had degrees in mathematics and architecture and received many awards and honors such as the Architecture Pritzker Prize and the Royal Institute of British Architects Royal Gold Medal. This book is a great literary piece to introduce a STEM unit.