Learning Plans & Activities
Graphing Literacy Rates and Making Inferences

In this lesson, students will explore data on literacy rates in Pakistan from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. They will use their observations to make inferences about education in Pakistan and connections to the themes of Aisha Saeed's Amal Unbound.

This lesson works best when taught during or after reading Amal Unbound in collaboration with the math/classroom teacher. If possible, the math teacher should give an introductory or review mini-lesson on reading line graphs in advance of this activity.


English Language Arts




Classroom teacher
Math teacher
English language arts techer


Students will interpret data from line graphs

Students will make inferences based on line graph data

Optional: Students will create line graphs based on information in Amal Unbound


Literacy Rate dropdown menu on the UNESCO Institute for Statistics Pakistan website http://uis.unesco.org/en/country/pk?theme=education-and-literacy

Amal Unbound (Penguin 2018)

Projector or other large-scale display method

Handouts created from UNESCO Pakistan Literacy Rate graphs (see Instructional Procedure below)


One to two class periods


AASL National School Library Standards

B.I.1. Using evidence to investigate questions.

D.III.1. Actively contributing to group discussions.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.Math.Content.6.SP.B.4: Display numerical data in plots on a number line, including dot plots, histograms, and box plots.

Instructional Procedure

Begin by projecting the definition of literacy (http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/literacy) and a quote from Chapter 38 in Amal Unbound:

"I knew learning to read wouldn't change the fact that Fatima was trapped here like I was, cleaning floors, dusting baseboards, and peeling potatoes. But at least by teaching her to read, I gave her a window to see worlds beyond ours and a chance to imagine leaving the walls of this estate and to feel free, even if it was only for a little while" (87).

Discuss with students: What is Amal's view on literacy? Do you agree with her? Why or why not?

Explain that around the world, people's access to education—and the quality of the education they can receive—varies greatly. Many people still do not have the opportunity to learn to read and write, which increases their vulnerability. But organizations like the United Nations are working towards a future where everyone will have access to schooling that will allow them to become literate.

Explain that part of what the United Nations does, through the group UNESCO, is collect information on education and literacy in countries around the world and that today's activity will involve looking at the data they have collected over the past thirty years in Pakistan.

Project a blank graph with the same x- and y-axis as the UNESCO graph. Discuss with students what the different axes mean. Add in the key for Male, Female, and Total colors. Discuss why they would separate genders in their data collection.

Project the graph for the "literacy rate among the population aged 15 years and older." As a class, discuss what the students notice. Is there an upward or downward trend? Are there any sudden spikes in the graph? What is being compared? What predication can you make for the future?

Hand out copies of the graphs for "literacy rate among the population aged 15-24 years" and "literacy rate among the population aged 65 years and older," along with guiding questions. Some questions you might ask are:

  • The x-axis represents ______________________.
  • The y-axis represents ______________________.
  • The lines on the graph for 15-24 years show me that _______________________________________________.
  • The lines on the graph for 65+ years show me that _________________________________________________.
  • If I compare the two graphs, I notice that _________________________________________________________.
  • This relates to Amal Unbound because __________________________________________________________.
  • Looking ahead to 2025, I would predict that _______________________________________________________ because __________________________________________________________________________________.

Students can work independently, in pairs, or in small groups to answer the questions in writing or orally.

Come back together to share what students noticed when comparing the two graphs, their connections to the novel, and what they might predict for literacy rates in Pakistan over the next ten years. Discuss what circumstances and actions might help increase literacy rates.

If you have additional time to dedicate to this lesson, ask students to apply their practice to create their own graphs that looks at "literacy rate for characters in Amal Unbound." Provide them with steps to create the graph. These could include:

  • X-axis is the place in story: beginning, middle, end.
  • Y-axis is the percentage of characters or number of characters.
  • Use different colored lines to represent male, female, and total characters.
  • Count the number of characters in the book (male, female, total).
  • Determine literacy rate for characters at opening of book.
  • Determine literacy rate for characters at middle of book.
  • Determine literacy rate for characters at end of book.
  • Plot the numbers on the graph.
  • Write a summary of the graph that shows what changed over the course of the book and, from reading the novel, why you think that is.


Provide additional support to students by walking them through the second graph as a whole class, as well.


One option for assessment is to use a rubric to mark student proficiency in the following areas based on their responses to the graph questions and/or their Amal Unbound graphs:

  • Defines what the x-axis represents
  • Defines what the y-axis represents
  • Identifies trends in line graph
  • Compares data across graphs
  • Makes connections between data and novel
  • Makes future predictions based on data

Additional Resources

Turner's Graph of the Week https://www.turnersgraphoftheweek.com/

Students Rebuild Literacy Challenge https://www.studentsrebuild.org/find-challenge/literacy-challenge

Statistics in Schools by the United States Census Bureau https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/sis.html

Jane Cullina

MLA Citation Cullina, Jane. "Graphing Literacy Rates and Making Inferences." School Library Connection, December 2018, schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Display/2235469?childId=2185205&topicCenterId=1955265&tab=1.

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Entry ID: 2185205

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