10 Pics Show Why You Need to Be Down With Malala’s ‘Books, Not Bullets’ Campaign

C’mon, take another selfie—one that supports universal education.
Array Mohamad, 12, looks at her copy of 'I Am Malala' in Denver. (Photo: Brent Lewis/'The Denver Post'/Getty Images)
Jul 10, 2015· 3 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

That well-intentioned decision to ban selfies from your life? It’s time to abandon it—at least temporarily—for Nobel Peace Prize winner and education activist Malala Yousafzai. On July 12, Yousafzai turns 18. For her birthday, she’s asking not for presents but for people around the world to share pictures of themselves with their favorite books. The goal: Pressure world leaders to cut military spending and fully fund K–12 education.

To that end, Yousafzai and her supporters are uploading pictures of themselves to Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms with the hashtag #BooksNotBullets.

RELATED: Weapons of Mass Instruction: See the Tank Loaded With Books, Not Bullets

“Books are a better investment in our future than bullets. Books, not bullets, will pave the path toward peace and prosperity,” Yousafzai told a conference of world leaders in Oslo on Tuesday.

So, Why Should You Care? In a recent post on the Malala Fund blog, Yousafzai shared startling statistics gleaned from a UNESCO report. If the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just eight days, we could have the $39 billion needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet, she wrote.

Yousafzai, who is the subject of the upcoming documentary He Named Me Malala (produced by TakePart’s parent company, Participant Media), kicked off the effort with a picture of herself holding The Diary of Anne Frank because the book reveals the courage and strength of a young girl living under war and conflict,” she wrote. It inspires me to believe that every child deserves the right to dream, the right to learn and the right to live in peace. We cannot stop terrorism just by killing terrorists. We need to fight against the ideology of terrorism and extremism, and that can be done successfully only through education. If a child, suffering from poverty and difficulties, is not given a book, he will pick up a gun. I call on my sisters and brothers all around the world to join me in this mission.”

Thousands of photos are being uploaded from supporters all across the globe. Here are 10 that might inspire you to snap that selfie and tell the world why you support #BooksNotBullets.

Canadian music star Grimes shared a selfie with her copy of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 feminist dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale. In the caption, Grimes wrote that she doesn’t know if this book is her favorite yet because she’s still reading it, and she shared her thoughts on only eight days of military spending being able to fund education for everyone. These stats are appalling, and respect to Malala for being proactive and always amazing,” she wrote.

A photo posted by Grimezsz (@actuallygrimes) on

Instagram user Chriz Cabauatan Villanueva shared a photo of her kids with their two favorite books. Her son is a fan of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid, while her daughter enjoys P.D. Eastman’s 1960 classic Are You My Mother? My little bookworms,” wrote the proud mom.

Global Kids, a New York City–based nonprofit that promotes global learning and youth development, has been sharing pictures of its staffers and the young people it works with. Staff member Kevin posed with Afghan American author Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 novel The Kite Runner. Kevin wrote that he was “drawn to Hosseinis work because he deftly employs the use of historical fiction to illuminate the recent tragic history of Afghanistan, but does so while showing the tremendous resilience and strength of those most affected. All children should be able to read great books like this one!”

A photo posted by Global Kids (@globalkids) on

Academy Award–winning French actor Marion Cotillard posted a pic with a copy of Our Plundered Planet, Fairfield Osborn’s 1948 treatise on the environmental damage people have wrought on the Earth. “It is an important book. A warning. Still need to be heard. So powerful.... It is my bible. A manifest for the planet and humanity,” wrote Cotillard. “Knowledge is a precious thing; it opens your heart and mind, it connects you to humanity, it makes you feel stronger and it raises the desire to share. A book is a treasure,” she added.

A photo posted by @marioncotillard on

Bangladesh-based international development organization BRAC shared a picture of a smiling girl named Marriam who lives in Yousafzai’s native Pakistan.

Marketing executive Ash Wiggins shared a selfie with Harper Lee’s 1960 classic To Kill a Mockingbird. “The way books take us to places we’ve never been and introduce us to points of views outside of our own are some of the most powerful ways in which education molds us into better people. Here’s to opening our minds and educating ourselves, one book at a time,” wrote Wiggins.

Instagram user Patoo25 wrote that she chose Nobel Prize–winning author Gabriel García Márquez’s 1985 novel Love in the Time of Cholera “because it is the only one that made all the travel from Mexico to Saudi Arabia with me” and because it “is a book about love, aging and death, three things that make us equal no matter gender, race, nationality or religion.”

A photo posted by Paty GL (@pattoo25) on

Ojonwa Miachi, a Nigeria-based World at School global youth ambassador, posted a selfie on Twitter posing with a copy of Americanah, the 2013 novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Here at TakePart, we’re not just writing about "Books, Not Bullets." Members of the editorial team brought in their favorite books—everything from fiction favorites such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye to nonfiction such as Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and Gabrielle Hamilton’s food memoir Blood, Bones, & Butter—to show support for the campaign.

A photo posted by takepart (@takepart) on