Last Monday, my friend Olivia and I decided to launch this idea called #GIRLWITHABOOK. At the time we were venting to each other about how horrified and utterly disgusted we were by the Taliban’s sick attempt at killing Malala Yousafzai on her school bus, and we wanted to do something about it. We wanted to do something for Malala, and at the same time stick it to the Taliban. So Olivia says to me “Let’s get people to post pictures of themselves with books! A favorite book, a random book, a school book, you name it. And we’ll post it on facebook, twitter, etc. to show Malala our support.” My reaction: THIS IS AWESOME.

The Taliban showed what they are most afraid: A GIRL WITH A BOOK.

So that’s exactly what we did. We created a Facebook page, Pinterest board, Twitter account and a tumblr. It sounds excessive, but can you blame us? We wanted the whole world to show their support for Malala. And as they say…a picture is worth a thousand words.

The first thing we did was message and email our own friends. Anyone we knew, we told them about our idea. Slowly but surely we started receiving submissions from our friends and family. They took pictures of themselves holding books, reading to people, reading with their pets, or reading together with someone else. They sent them in and we posted them. The number of likes on Facebook increased from 10 to 40 to 120 to 200. We were getting supporters from all over the world, and including other organizations like the National Women’s History Museum. And then something even more amazing happened.

Half the Sky, a book written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, tweeted and posted on their Facebook wall about us. As a result, we got over 400 likes on our Facebook page in a single day. Half the Sky is now also a film, a game, and a movement. All of which are about “raising awareness and inspiring action to turn oppression to opportunity for women worldwide.” The outpouring of support after their post was incredible.

Within a single week, we managed to launch a movement of sorts. It all began with a 15 year old girl named Malala Yousafzai, but now she has come to symbolize the hope that education can bring to both girls and boys. She is the one who inspired and touched everyone’s hearts with her courage. My friend and I simply wanted to find a way to thank her and show her that we stand with her. We stand with Malala, we stand with all boys and girls who are fighting for a chance to learn. Education is everybody’s right, and I truly believe it is our duty to do whatever we can to make sure that everyone gets their chance.

As of today, on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 9:44 PM, we have 811 supporters on Facebook, about 51 followers on Twitter, 72 followers on Pinterest, and 17 followers on tumblr (our tumblr is fairly new compared to the others). With the help of other people who believe in Malala and what she fights for, we can achieve this. We can stop extremists from taking away our education, our freedom, our rights. In the end, they won’t win. We will.

Here’s some more exciting news. After we receive a significant number of pictures, Olivia and I plan on compiling all of them into a book and sending it to Malala. All of us are praying and wishing for her full recovery, and we thought this would be a great way for us to show just how much she has come to mean to us.

If you want to join the #GIRLWITHABOOK movement, please submit a picture of yourself with a book to girlwithabookmovement@gmail.com. Make sure to include the title of the book and the city, state, country that you took your picture

Feel free to post on our Facebook page or tweet at us @_girlwithabook as well. We invite submissions from girls, boys, men and women, because a cause like this needs support from everyone.

Here are some of my favorite pictures.

126 thoughts on “#GIRLWITHABOOK

  1. Brilliant. How freaking brilliant. You guys are amazing. What an endeavor. I look at the picture of that young girl and I see so much bravery and strength that I am humbled. This project deserves more attention!

  2. This is awesome! It’s always amazing to me how things can get started- just a spark of an idea that lights up the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Brilliant! I have just posted this on Facebook. Here in South Africa we are having huge education issues. Not good. I love what you are doing, Thank you for taking this on and good luck with it!

  4. This is such a good idea!! have just sent a pic to the facebook page (a very bad pic) and posted on my wall about it. Well done!!

  5. I love, love, love this blog!! I’m about to become the first person in my Mums family to get a degree; it might have personally taken a while for us to reach this milestone but there were no where near as many obstacles to my education than Malala has had to face; I still can’t quite believe that in 2012 a girl can still be shot just for going to school.

  6. Oh Thank You Lena!!!

    THIS is precisely what I’ve been trying to explain to the dumb Americans for last 12 years that “fundamentalism” is an ideology. It can only be fought and eliminated by a competing more attractive ideology, NOT by bombs and missiles.

    If the US had spent half the money they waste on wars in building schools instead and sending voluntary teachers, fundamentalism would have vanished by now.

    EDUCATION is the key!

    Sadly though, this has made me to suspect that the US war-on-terror was never sincere in the first place. Perhaps what they really wanted was a new military base right in China’s backyard.

    Anyways, your ambition is a great one.
    My compliments on comming up with such a good idea!

  7. Reblogged this on Alexandra Romรกn's Mink and commented:
    Share and share, for every child has the right to get an education. So read the post by visiting the link below, like on Facebook, take a photo with your favorite book, send it to A Girl With A Book and share some more. Girls like Malala are an inspiration as you will read.

  8. Until recently, I had no idea that there were places in the world that would punish a girl like me. A girl who loves to read and learn. The idea that a boy could do something and I could not would be beyond appalling to me. It makes me proud to know that there are girls out there who know what they want and have the wherewithal to know that just because someone who is in charge says something does not mean it is correct. She knows we stand by her.

  9. When I saw the New York Times documentary video about Malala and her father, I was moved by her reaction upon returning to Swat and finding that her brothers’ chickens were gone. She had to go and check on her books. I have chills now remembering the scene. This is such an inspirational idea. I wish you the very best.

    • I felt the exact same way when I saw the NYTimes documentary. She is facing all this with such great courage. This project was the least my friend and I could do for her

  10. Hey guys! This is a wonderful idea ๐Ÿ˜€ I was just wondering if you have a deadline on when to submit the photos. Thanks, and keep fighting for the movement!!!!

  11. I wish people would stop saying “Shot by men”. Men don’t shoot innocent girls. Men don’t rape or violate. Men don’t bully or dominate the weak … scum do.
    ‘Man’ is an honorific, a title that has to be earnedโ€”thugs with guns (be they Taliban or US forces) oppressing the innocent are not men.

    Photo of me with a book? I don’t qualify, I’m a man. But I feel sick to the soul for what has been done to that innocent girl, and all the others like her. Your blog? Great idea, you might have started something really big; I hope so.

    • Thank you for your support. We would actually LOVE to get pictures of men holding books or signs of support. We already have a few and we’re trying to encourage others to do so. Would you consider sending one in? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • its true Argus, but as girls suffer just for being girls, have some courage to at least be named with your lot….
      I do not mean of course that all men do such things…

  12. Congratulations on your success with your idea. I hope that you are able to inspire and change lives. I hope that one day everyone will experience true love and freedom.

  13. Impressive and really very initializing too. “Half the sky” a wonderful book, it covers so much about being a woman. Where still there are more places to conquer in the women sector, it really disgust me when read about that innocent girl.Why harm such gracious person to learn and challenge a new frontier.

  14. When I read the article in the news here I was sickened. A young innocent life trying to stand up for what she believes in… the world has very sick people… Congratulations for what you are doing in your fight for her to be heard! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Indeed a great act on your part … The world must know that courage see no AGE… A girl of 14 years of age has shown such a courage which Not even an adult could have shown against terror outfits like Taliban. Kudos to ur effort Lena.
    Do Reach me at Krazy Memoirs I seek ur permission to reblog your beautiful post.

  16. Lena– this is brilliant. I am รผber inspired by your efforts and have sent word along to my networks about this movement. If you need help with advocacy/donor support, perhaps to get this book compiled, let me know! In peace,

    Nadia Osman

  17. This is an excellent initiative! I’m still relatively new to the blogging world, and happened upon your blog mostly by chance, but I’m glad I did. I have also written about Malala and how remarkable it is that she has inspired so many in such a short time. Just incredible. If you’d like, feel free to check out my post (below). Take care and good luck with this effort! I’m not a girl, otherwise I’d send along a photo of myself. Perhaps there’s a way to open it up to male participation? Just a thought.


    • Thank you for your support! We’ve actually been asking guys to send in pictures and you can scroll through our Facebook or Pinterest to see some of their pictures ๐Ÿ™‚ It would be great if you could submit one too! And I will definitely check out your post on Malala

  18. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your blog.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to
    come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?
    Excellent work!

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