Raise Your Hand

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Raise Your Hand Book Poster Image
Inspiring story of tween getting girls to speak up.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows that even a kid can make a difference and take steps to bring a good idea to a big institution and have it accepted. Shows a bit about scouting and practice of earning patches for Girl Scout uniform for things like canoeing, community service. Mention that author was named after Alice Paul, "a brave woman who fought for women's rights over one hundred years ago."

Positive Messages

Even a kid can make a difference. It's good for girls to raise their hand and answer questions in class. If you give the wrong answer, "it's not the end of the world." Speaking up doesn't have to be scary. It can be empowering to overcome your fears. When you have a problem, sometimes it helps to  talk about it with others to come up with a possible solution. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Alice is thoughtful, comes up with creative idea to encourage girls to raise their hand and speak up in class. She talks about the problem with her troop and troop leader, then Girl Scouts council, who are all receptive. Alice's mom is supportive, suggests Alice bring the issue up with her Girl Scout troop -- she doesn't solve the problem for her.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Raise Your Hand is a picture book by Alice Paul Tapper, 11-year-old daughter of CNN anchor Jake Tapper. It recounts how Alice, a Girl Scout, came up with the idea of girls earning a patch for raising their hand in class, after she noticed that it's more common for boys to raise their hand and answer questions, while girls often feel too scared to do it. It's both a cheerful lesson in activism and a call to action for girls to conquer their fear of speaking up.

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What's the story?

In RAISE YOUR HAND, sixth-grader Alice Paul Tapper notices that when the teacher asks a question, she and other girls often keep their hand down, afraid of making a mistake, while boys seem to have more confidence and less trouble offering an answer, whether it's right or wrong. She brings this up at a meeting of her Girl Scout troop, and the other girls agree that this happens in the classroom. Alice thinks about how Scouts earn badges or patches for doing brave things, like canoeing. She meets with the Girl Scouts council and they come up with the idea of a Raise Your Hand pledge and patch program, and she goes on TV to talk about it. The idea catches on, and Girl Scout troops around the country start asking to be part of the program.

Is it any good?

This engaging story of a young girl coming up with a big idea to encourage girls to speak up has a positive, inspiring message. Raise Your Hand shows that even a kid can make a difference. And it shows Alice's thoughtful process. She doesn't judge others. She observes the behavior in herself first, tries to understand why she's afraid to raise her hand, and brings the issue up with her troop and troop leader to see if others agree it's an issue. Then she takes steps to implement her idea beyond her own troop.

This gentle lesson in activism is rooted in positive values and is illustrated with Marta Kissi's cheerful, cartoon-like illustrations of diverse kids in relatable situations in class and at play. It's also a call to action, as Alice says on the last page, "Now it's your turn. You can do it. Be bold and brave, and Raise Your Hand!"

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Raise Your Hand shows that girls often don't feel confident to raise their hand in school. Have you seen this in your classroom? Why do you think boys feel more comfortable doing it?

  • What do you think of rewarding girls who raise their hands? Do you think getting a reward helps change behavior?

  • Alice was only 10 years old when she got her big idea and brought it to the Girl Scouts organization. Does her story make you feel like you can think big and change the world even though you're just a kid? What other stories do you know about kids making a difference?

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