PARK SLOPE — When a 14-year-old Pakistani girl was shot by the Taliban last year for supporting women's education, some Park Slope fifth-graders were so moved that they asked their mothers to bake 2,000 brownies.
The students wanted to sell the baked goods for a buck each to raise $2,000 in honor of Malala Yousafzai, the shooting victim who went on to become a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.
After parents nixed the baking bonanza, the girls came up with a new plan: a read-a-thon to drum up donations for nonprofits that support girls' education. Last year's inaugural read-in drew 75 girls from 12 schools and managed to raise a little over $5,000 for Developments in Literacy.
Organizers want to top that figure at this year's read-a-thon on Nov. 16 at the Park Slope public library, said Meg Barnette, mother of 10-year-old Rosa Lander, one of the students who helped organize the read-a-thons.
The story of Yousafzai, who began speaking out against the Taliban when she was just 11, struck a chord in a neighborhood where infringement on children's rights is generally limited to school bans on Rainbow Loom.
"Rosa and her friends were outraged and inspired by [Malala's] courage, and really perplexed," Barnette said. "It was, 'What do you mean girls can’t go to school? What's that about?' It was a real paradigm shifter, a real awakening."
Rosa — who is the daughter of City Councilman Brad Lander — and her friends have closely followed Yousafzai's burgeoning career as an international women's rights activist. They watched her speech at the United Nations, her appearance on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart and a recent interview with Christiane Amanpour.
The girls thought a read-a-thon was a fitting tribute to Yousafzai, who has "spoken eloquently about the power of books," Barnette said.
"The girls said, 'Our life is so different from hers and we can't take it for granted. We need to raise our voices too,'" Barnette said.
The money the girls raise this year will go toward the Queens-based nonprofit Women for Afghan Women. (Yousafzai is from the Swat Valley, on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.) Donors can make a lump sum contribution or pledge to pay a certain amount based on how many pages each girl reads.
The Girls Read for Girls read-a-thon is from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 16 at the Park Slope public library, 431 Sixth Ave. at Ninth Street. Participants (boys are welcome) can register here.