If you haven’t heard of #BooksNotBullets, then you need to.

Malala Yousafzai is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and an incredible human being . Maybe you don’t recognise her name. Maybe you don’t know all of her story. Maybe you only remember her as the girl who was shot by a member of the Pakistani Taliban for daring to speak up about women’s rights to education.

There’s one thing that you do need to know about Malala Yousafzai. Today, 12 July 2015, is her 18th birthday and she wants something very special. Malala wants you to ‘post a photo of yourself holding up your favourite book and share why YOU choose #BooksNotBullets—and tell world leaders to fund the real weapon for change, education … In fact, if the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, we could have the $39 billion still needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet.’ 

So here’s my story:

Back in 2000, I was living in the Solomon Islands with my family when a coup broke out. Expat women and children were evacuated on the HMAS Tobruk but most of the men had to stay. Since my dad was head of country for one of the biggest banks there, he definitely had to stay.

So I was eight years old, stuck on a naval ship, and freaking out about whether my dad was safe. Then my sister pulled a book out of her backpack. That book was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was the only book any of us had grabbed in our rush to get to the evacuation point. Stuck on the boat for five days, my sister, my brother and I just read and reread Philosopher’s Stone over and over again.

Though a few scary things did happen while my father saw out his contract in the Solomon Islands, all the banks basically banded together and said, ‘If you mess with one of us, we all close down.’ No one—not even the real guerrilla fighters—wanted to actually plunge the country into financial chaos so most people backed off. My dad joined us back in Australia about 18 months later and we’ve lived here happily for the last 15 years.

While reading on the ship, I realised what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to write books that could help someone the way Philosopher’s Stone helped me. Even though that experience is far behind me, I will never be able to thank J.K. Rowling enough for what her books did for me on that journey.

I choose #BooksNotBullets.


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