2016-17: I Am Malala

Quote from Malala Yousafzai: One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.

WSU Selects “I Am Malala” as the 2016-17 Common Reading Book in Pullman

Washington State University has named the best-selling “I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” as the 2016-17 common reading for first-year and other students in Pullman, Interim Co-Provost Erica Austin has announced.

Austin chose “I Am Malala” from three books recommended by the selection committee of the Common Reading Program, part of WSU Undergraduate Education.

The 2013 book is a memoir written by the world’s youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai, with Christina Lamb, a British journalist. It details the life of the Yousafzai family in northern Pakistan, their passion for education, Malala’s recovery from the assassination attempt when she was 15, and her emergence in the three years since as an international heroine. Now living in Birmingham, England, she has addressed the United Nations and won countless awards as a persevering advocate for education and freedom.

“I chose ‘I Am Malala’ for a great many reasons,” said Austin. Chief among them is that “the book dovetails closely with our university’s mission to provide broad access to education, including those from diverse domestic and international backgrounds, as well as those who are place bound.”

The book also reinforces WSU’s commitment to building a university community that is inclusive, respectful, and equitable, she said. She noted the author’s summary of education’s power: “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.”

Aligns with WSU emphases

“‘I Am Malala’ is an incredibly dramatic first-person account by an individual who is similar in age to many of our entering students who will encounter topics from this book in their classes and activities. I believe this will deepen their identification with her story and its ability to empower them as new university students,” said Austin.

She added that the book provides “an interesting context for discussing academic freedom and freedom of speech, which are topics of interest and concern for our university community as well as our nation and world.”

She also noted that wide-ranging academic disciplines can connect with the book, “and it can connect with all of WSU’s research grand challenges.” 

The book’s setting is in the Middle East, and that aspect could raise timely issues likely to be in the news during this presidential election year.

Social justice and leadership theme

“We believe Dr. Austin’s selection features extraordinary topics that tie clearly to the Common Reading’s two-year theme of ‘social justice and leadership,” said Susan Poch, common reading co-director and chair of the selection committee.

“We have seen that students, faculty, staff, and units across the university resonate with that theme as they use the current book, ‘Just Mercy.’ Committee members are confident that ‘I Am Malala’ will prove to be equally adaptable and applicable to a wealth of lively classroom discussions and events in the coming academic year.”

Poch commended committee members for their work to evaluate the 27 books nominated in fall, and then narrow the number to recommend for consideration. The two other books presented to Austin were “My Beloved World,” by Sonia Sotomayor, U.S. Supreme Court associate justice, and “Integration Nation: Immigrants, Refugees, and America at Its Best,” by author and journalist Susan E. Eaton. The latter was selected from the same list of nominations to be the common reading book used at WSU Vancouver in 2016-17.

Looking ahead to a tenth anniversary year

As she has done for the previous nine common reading books in as many years, program co-director Karen Weathermon will develop a year-long set of faculty and guest-expert lectures 

and special programming aligned with the book. This work also allows coordination with units across campus that offer affiliated events.

“There is a wealth of information available about Malala, her life, her work, and international responses to her initiatives, so the opportunities to build a diverse and meaningful set of academic experiences for students will be quite rewarding,” said Weathermon.

“Also, as 2016-17 marks the tenth anniversary of the Common Reading Program in Pullman, I am confident that there will be some special events throughout the year.”

Event Calendar

Calendar for 2016-17 I Am Malala-related Events


Check here for upcoming Common Reading events, including the Common Reading faculty and guest expert lecture series. As plans for each event are finalized, updated information will be noted on this page. 

Need a Common Reading stamp to prove attendance? Look for events that include this note: “Common Reading stamp available.”

Unless otherwise stated, listed events are open to the public at no charge.










Kahlida Brohi: Common Reading Invited Lecture

The Common Reading Invited Lecture 2016 was presented by Activist, Kalidah Brohi 

The tenth annual Common Reading Invited Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Tues., Sept. 27 in the CUB M.G. Carey Senior Ballroom will feature Khalida Brohi, Pakistani activist for women’s rights, global speaker, and founder of the Sughar Empowerment Society and Foundation to help educate and empower women. The public is welcome.

“Ms. Brohi is an acclaimed advocate for the improvement of the lives of women in her country, and she works every day to bring positive changes to that nation and its culture,” said Karen Weathermon, co-director of the Common Reading Program, lecture sponsor and a unit of WSU Undergraduate Education.

“Much of her life parallels that of her fellow Pakistani activist, Malala Yousafzai, the author of I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, this year’s common reading book for thousands of WSU first-year and other students at campuses in Pullman, Tri-Cities, Spokane, and Puget Sound/Everett, and the Global Campus,” said Susan Poch, program co-director.

“We are honored to welcome Ms. Brohi to speak from personal experience on topics that are important to both as well as to the modern world.”

Brohi will visit with Pullman students, faculty, and staff throughout the day of the lecture. Following the presentation, she will travel to WSU Tri-Cities to meet with students and deliver another lecture Wed., Sept. 28, evening.

Brohi, Sughar, and Social Entrepreneurship

As a teenager in Pakistan, Brohi witnessed the honor killing of a friend who had married for love instead of a family-approved choice. Following her father’s advice of “Don’t cry, strategize!,” the honor-killing experience inspired her to plan and organize a vehicle to empower women. Realizing protest alone would not impact women’s lives, she founded and directs the Sughar Empowerment Society, a nonprofit organization supporting rural and tribal women in Pakistan to improve their quality of life by empowering them socio-economically, emotionally, and intellectually. She is also the chief visionary officer of the Sughar Foundation.

Brohi has set a goal to impact through her organizations the lives of one million Pakistani women. “Sughar” means “skilled and confident woman” in the Urdu language spoken there. Women served by the Empowerment Society get income from their work—often embroidery of fine fabrics to be used in the fashion industry—as well as the ability to “challenge negative cultural beliefs with education and information about women’s rights.”

Award-Winning Acclaim

Among Brohi’s many honors is her recognition in 2014 as a “Forbes 30 Under 30” top young world leader in the social entrepreneurship category, honoring those who leverage business tools to improve the world.

She has been profiled in such media as The Daily Beast, the Huffington Post and NBC News, and delivered a TEDtalk in 2015 titled “How I Work to Protect Women from Honor Killings.”

She has been named one of Newsweek magazine’s “25 under 25” and one of the “100 Women Who Matter in Pakistan;” awarded the “Woman of Impact Award” by the Women in the World Foundation, the Women Excellence Award by national Government of Pakistan; the Young Champion Award from the University of Singapore; and the Unreasonable Institute Fellowship Award. Brohi has addressed numerous global forums, and has received recognition from Oprah Winfrey, CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour, and the former American President Bill Clinton.

For Students and Families

There are some general questions about the common readings that many students ask. These frequently-asked-questions and answers may help you.

Contact for the WSU Common Reading Program

Please connect with program co-director Karen Weathermon.