Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head last year for advocating education for girls like herself, honored her own weapon of choice Tuesday: the book. The 16-year-old, who was hospitalized in Britain after being shot by the Taliban, was chosen to deliver the opening speech for a new public library in Birmingham, England, that is being touted as the largest in Europe.
In a warmly received address outside the new 10-story building, whose more than 1 million books include a collection of the first folios of Shakespeare’s works, Malala declared that “books are the only weapon that can defeat terrorism.”
The 100,000-square-foot library, designed by architect Francine Houben’s Dutch firm, Mecanoo, is a far cry from most of Britain’s stolid traditional libraries and public buildings. The focus is on light and space indoors and out, including a wildflower garden on the top roof terrace. The collection of Shakespeare’s first four folio editions is housed in a carefully reconstructed Victorian wood-paneled room.
After her attack, Malala was brought to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth hospital for surgery that enabled her to recover all her faculties. Five months later, she resumed her schooling, this time in Birmingham, where she now lives with her family. She said: “It was here that I found myself alive after my shooting. And when I was discharged I was introduced to a new society which is different from Pakistan. People tell me they have read hundreds of books, even children of 6 and 7 have read more books than me.” She vowed to read thousands of books, saying, “I will empower myself with knowledge.” Her address closed with a heartfelt appeal to “not forget that 57 million children are out of school. … And let us not forget that even one book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.”
‘American Idol’ remixes the judges
“American Idol” is betting that a judges’ remix with Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban will fare better with viewers than bickering divas Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj did last season. The rumored addition of Lopez and Connick as judges for season 13 was announced Tuesday by Fox. They’ll join Urban to make up the talent show’s first panel consisting solely of singers — a la NBC’s successful 2011 upstart “The Voice.” Lopez will be back after a two-season run as judge in 2011 and 2012 that was a boon for the show and her career. Connick, a respected jazz singer and musician, proved adept as a mentor in several “Idol” appearances. Fox also announced that original judge Randy Jackson, who exited along with Carey and Minaj at the end of last season, will be back in a new role as in-house mentor to the contestants. Ryan Seacrest will again host.