Tag Archives: Iqbal

Malala: A Brave Girl from Pakistan/Iqbal: A Brave Boy from Pakistan by Jeanette Winters


Malala Iqbal

Again I break from my fiction preference to review another book about these two remarkable individuals: Malala and Iqbal.  In this beautiful book linking two brave children from Pakistan, Jeanette Winter’s brings their stories to a young audience in a powerfully simplistic way.  Written on an AR 3.6 level, each story is 20 pages and presented in a flip book format.  Before each story there is a brief Author’s Note about each character in a broader view, for context to be given as needed to the adults to share with the children listening to the book, or for older children to read and deepen their understanding and appreciation.  The sentences are short and the font and presentation is inviting to even early readers.  The pictures are wonderful and do a tremendous job showing the intensity of the environment Malala and Iqbal face, while not frightening the reader.

The Malala portion of the book starts with the Taliban asking for her on the bus and like her biography, then takes the reader to the threats and deterrents they made to girls in school, but on an audience appropriate level.  It tells how they stopped wearing uniforms so that they could be harder to identify and how even burning the girls school didn’t stop them. It then returns to her being shot and going from the hospital in Swat to one in England.  It concludes with her speaking to the U.N. on her 16th birthday.


The story of Iqbal is a bit harder I think for children to understand as they may not know what a loom is or have ever thought about who makes carpets.  Also the words bondage, Peshgi, outlawed, and mourners are not in their vocabulary .  They should understand that he is sold for an unpaid $12 debt, but that too may need to be stressed and explained. If the kids can grasp this, I really think children as young as kindergarten can appreciate his story.  I love that the author didn’t shy away from the fact that he was shot and killed.   Even if they do not understand all the facets that make Iqbal’s work so incredible.  They will feel inspired that someone so young was so brave.  Iqbal


Iqbal by Francesco D’Adamo

Iqbal by Francesco D’Adamo


Iqbal is the fictionalized story of the young Iqbal Masih, a real boy who escaped virtual slavery in a carpet factory to fight against child labor in Pakistan.  Although the book is a short read at only 120 pages, it is heavy in content.  The description of the children who work all day often tied to their looms to make the beautiful carpets desired all over the world, is both incredibly gut wrenching as well as inspiring.  The book has an AR level 5.1 and while the author and main character are not Muslim, most of the minor characters presumably are, as is the environment.  I am using this book for our new Book Club book because the message and determination of young Iqbal is something middle school students should feel empowered by, inshaAllah.

“So long as there’s a child in this world who is deprived of his childhood, a child who is beaten, violated, or exploited, nobody can say it’s not my business.”                                 …Iqbal


The story is told from the voice of a young girl, Fatima, bonded to a carpet weaver where Iqbal joins her and a handful of other children who are forced to make carpets to pay off their parents’ debts.  Iqbal has a reputation as being the best carpet maker and is rumored to have made one of the most difficult designs for a former master.  While good at what he does, Iqbal combats the naivety of the other children by pointing out that they will never be allowed to leave, even if they manage to pay off their debt.  This slow realization empowers all the children with Iqbal as their leader to dream of freedom, and to stand behind Iqbal as he dares to do more than just dream.


I like this book because it is vivid in detail and really takes the reader to a place they have never seen, nor thought about.  To read about another’s life paves the way for the reader to develop understanding and empathy, characteristics most middle school students rarely exhibit.  The fact that it is based on a true story, in the recent past, really hammers these concepts into the reader and changes the way one looks at hand tied carpets, and child labor in general.  I think it also makes the reader appreciate their own life, their own freedom, and educational opportunities even more.


The book is clean, but the concepts are for older kids.


Unit Plan:

Click to access iqbal-unit-plan.pdf

Summary with pictures: