Recommended for grades 7 and up
It almost seems too perfectly timed with Banned Books Week, but the big news in the children’s book industry over the past two weeks has been the professor (from MO) who decided to campaign to have the book, Speak, banned from a local high school. His reason why—its “soft pornography”—say what?!
Speak is about Melinda, a freshman, who is a (newly) self-imposed mute. She’s become an outcast at her school for calling the cops to a party that happened during the summer. Through Melinda’s first person narration, the reader starts to piece together clues that something bad happened at the party and then Melinda finally confesses (speaks out) that she was raped. It is one powerful read.
The book focuses not only on the courage it took Melinda to speak up after such a horrific experience, but on her metamorphoses that is mimicked metaphorically through an art project involving a tree. This book has changed many girls and women’s lives, for they have decided to speak up about their experiences too—because there should be no gray area when someone says “no” or “stop.”
Sometimes, it takes a book to empower and let the reader know that s/he is not alone.
Anderson, L. H. (2006). Speak. New York City, NY: Penguin Young Readers Group.