Human Rights

Malala’s Magic Pencil

Author(s): Malala Yousafzai


Social Justice focus: Gender roles/ peace

Synopsis: Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, tells her story of finding her voice to fight for peace and the right of all girls to an education. As a young child in Pakistan, Malala dreamed of a magic pencil that would create the world she wanted. Later, when the Taliban tried to prevent girls from attending school, she used her ability to write and speak to promote change. She challenges everyone to use their voices to make a better world.

Lesson Plan: Rabia Khan

Primary/Junior/Intermediate Lesson Plan (Abbreviated Template)

Consecutive and Concurrent Programs

Unit/Topic: Social Justice Issues in Picture Books

Grade: 4

Lesson: Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

The purpose of this lesson is to bring awareness to certain social justice issues to children such as gender inequality, bullying, and more. Malala first uses her magic pencil as a form of entertainment, but as she grows older she is more aware of the social inequalities that surround her. The magic pencil evolves to include erasing “war, poverty, and hunger”.

Curriculum Areas & Expectations:


Reading 1: read and demonstrate an understanding of a variety of literary, graphic, and informational texts, using a range of strategies to construct meaning

Writing 1: generate, gather, and organize ideas and information to write for an intended purpose and audience

Oral 1: listen in order to understand and respond appropriately in a variety of situations for a variety of purposes

Visual Arts 1: Creating and Presenting: apply the creative process to produce a variety of two- and three-dimensional art works, using elements, principles, and techniques of visual arts to communicate feelings, ideas, and understandings


Variety of Texts 1.1: read a variety of texts from diverse cultures, including graphic texts (picture books).

Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts 1.5: make inferences about texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts as evidence (without text, what do the pictures imply?).

Extending Understanding 1.6: extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (social justice issues).

Purpose and Audience 1.1: identify the topic, purpose, and audience for a variety of writing forms (Letter to Malala congratulating her hard work and ethics).

Demonstrating Understanding 1.4: demonstrate an understanding of the information and ideas in a variety of oral texts by summarizing important ideas and citing important details (represent the important ideas of an oral text through visual art).

1.2: demonstrate an understanding of composition, using selected principles of design to create narrative art works or art works on a theme or topic (emphasize on w the “magic pencil” fixes the situation).

1.3: use elements of design in art works to communicate ideas, messages, and understandings (make clear of what the social justice issue is).

Learning Goal(s): I will…

  • Read a variety of texts
  • Read between the lines
  • Connect ideas to reality
  • Identify the social justice issues hidden within the text
  • Summarize important details from the text
  • Contrast between before and after in their artwork
  • Communicate ideas and messages through their drawing

Success Criteria: I can…

  • Understand what the text is saying
  • Identify the message behind the text
  • Connect ideas from the text to real life situations that are occurring today
  • Recall the different social justice issues within the text
  • Use jot notes to take down important details
  • Use black & white for the background and colour for the foreground
  • Colour represents the magic pencil whereas, black & white is the social justice issue


  • Visual learners can read on their own.
  • Auditory learners can participate in the read-aloud or listen to an audiobook version of the story.
  • Oral learners can read to a partner.
  • Students can use technology or any other assistive devices to edit their picture.
  • Students can use the selected images provided for them or come up with their own social justice scenarios.
  • Students can work together with a partner.
  • They can have extra time during recess to complete their artwork.

Minds-on: Read-aloud & discussion

Minutes: 15 minutes

Task: I will be reading Malala’s Magic Pencil while the students pay attention to the story. They can take notes or draw ideas if they’d like.

Assessment: Assessment for Learning

I will use a checklist to determine which students participated in the discussion session.

Guiding Questions:

  • What does the title Malala’s Magic Pencil make you think about?
  • Do you believe in magic?
  • What is Malala doing? Where is she? What surrounds her?
  • What is she thinking about?
  • What comes out of Malala’s pencil? What do these icons symbolize?
  • If you found out that you could not go to school because of your gender, how would you feel?
  • Do you think that girls and boys are treated equally?

Action: Picture edit & gallery walk

Minutes: 60 minutes

Task: I will be assisting any students who require my help, with a great focus on those who have IEPs. The students will have about 5 mins to decide which picture to choose from, each picture represents a different social justice issue such as poverty, racism, sexism, LGBTQ rights, bullying etc. Once they have chosen their specific topic they must then use coloured markers to draw on top of the black and white picture to improve it. The coloured portion should represent the after or the ‘what has been fixed?’. Whereas, the black and white picture is the before, displaying the current social justice topic.

Assessment: Assessment As Learning

Students will conduct a gallery walk and evaluate their peer’s artwork using the 2 stars and 1 wish method at the end of the activity.

Guiding Questions:

  • How might a pencil be “magic”? What power does a pencil have?
  • If you had a magic pencil, what would you draw?
  • What social justice issue is presented within the picture you chose?
  • Explain what you did to fix it.
  • What are 2 things you like about your class-mates’ artwork and 1 suggestion?

Consolidation: Dear Malala,

Minutes: 25 minutes

Task: Students will write a short letter, about one paragraph long to Malala Yousafzai about what they have learned from her book and how they can help to create change within their own community. As they are writing their letters, I will take notes on their finished artwork and record the data using a rubric.

Assessment: Assessment Of Learning

I will use a rubric that addresses the success criteria of the letter and the picture activity and grade them based on the learning goals provided.

Guiding Questions:

  • What are some details you would like to include in your letter?
  • How can you help create change within your own community?
  • What would you change and why?
  • How will this change improve the community? The world?

MATERIALS: What resources and materials do I need? Where can I find them? In a perfect world what other resources might I need?

  • Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
  • Chromebooks or iPads
  • Pictures of social justice issues
  • Coloured markers
  • Paper & pencil


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Social Justice Picture Books Copyright © 2019 by Ruth McQuirter, editor and Gurbinder Kaur, contributing editor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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