Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Which is worse, speaking up or keeping it in?

Laurie Halse Anderson brings the reader right into the middle of the life of Melinda, a high school outcast. Melinda has a secret and it has destroyed her in every way in her novel Speak. Her friends have turned on her. She has turned on herself. She doesn't speak. Her grades are slipping. Nothing makes sense. This first person narrative delves into what it is to have a secret and what it is to feel left out. As a reader you will feel connected to Melinda, reflecting on all the times you may have felt left out. You will also want Melinda to fix her problems, feel better, to speak up and tell someone. This book is surely a timeless one that will stay with you for a long time and make you question how you've treated people in the past, and will make you wonder what secrets those around you may be keeping.

Reading Level: I would recommend this book to upper middle school students and high school students based on some tough topics.

Teachers... Here are some resources to help you teach this book...

Web Resources:
  • Study Guide: Discussion questions, symbolism, writing prompts and more.
  • Unit: This day by day unit for Speak gives step by step lesson plans (objectives, procedure, assignments, etc.)
  • Wikispace: This wikispace page contains links to both above mentioned web resources and many others to help teach Speak.
 There are TONS of other web resources out there to help you. Don't be afraid to search "Speak Laurie Halse Anderson Lessons" or replace "Lessons" with "Activities." There is nothing wrong with sharing ideas between teachers and there are loads of teachers out there willing to share their ideas, take what you like, invent something of your own, pick and choose, it's all up to you :)

Vocabulary: Here are some words I picked out while reading, some of the sources above had their own lists as well... abstinence, demerit, dyad, errant, pseudo, xenophobic, demure, abysmal, quota, conundrum, symbolism, vespiary, wistful


Before Reading: Journal: Melinda ended the summer on a bad note with her friends and future high school classmates. These "friends" and classmates harass Melinda because of the decision she made. What are some examples of harassment you see within your class and school? What do the people witnessing the harassment do?

During Reading: Journal: Why you think Melinda is choosing to not speak at all? What do you think you would do if you were in the same kind of situation as Melinda? What would you do if a friend came to you and said something like what happened to Melinda happened to them?

After Reading: Journal: What are some differences that you predict for Melinda's second year of high school compared to her first year? Do you think her grades will go up? Will she have friends? Who will her friends be? What about her relationship with her parents?

Anderson, L. H. (1999). Speak. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux. 
Happy Reading (& Running) =)

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