Born in Pakistan, Malika moved to America when she was just a few years old. She spoke Arabic and Urdu in the home, but soon began learning English at school. Malika is the youngest and the only daughter in the family. Her father sells items made in Pakistan at local farmers markets and her mother works in the office at a nearby elementary school.

Malika was one of the first children to visit the StoryTent. We’ve watched her grow both as a child and a reader. At first Malika didn’t like reading. She was only five and didn’t know how to read. One Saturday, with help from a persistent volunteer, she discovered the Madeline books. Malika was hooked. She started reading more and more books every Saturday. With each book read, Malika earned book bucks, which she saved to buy big prizes like an Easy Bake Oven and movie tickets.

One week Malika had a bruise. She said the kids in her apartment building were jealous of all the prizes she had earned at the StoryTent and got into a fight with her.

A volunteer asked Malika what she thought she should do to make the situation better. Malika responded, “Maybe I can start my own StoryTent at my apartment so that the kids who live there can have a chance to earn prizes, too.”

Watching Malika grow over the past five years has been an immense honor and we can’t wait to see what the next five years have in store for her. She’s already talking about interning with Traveling Stories when she is in high school!