Say Something

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Say Something Book Poster Image
Inspiring book spurs kids to speak up, stand up.

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

Educational Value

Shows there are all kinds of ways to express what you're thinking and feeling -- loudly or quietly, publicly or privately, through writing, art, poetry, speaking, or actions. 

Positive Messages

There are positive messages on every page. Some key ones: The world needs your voice. It doesn't need to be perfect, as along as it's from your heart. You don't have to be loud. Powerful words can be a whisper. Your voice can inspire, heal, and transform. Your voice can change the world. If you're angry ... say something to help people understand. Sometimes you'll say something and no one will be listening. But keep saying what's in your heart ... and you will find someone who listens. There's also a nice message about existential gratitude: If you are grateful for being alive ... quietly say something to the stars, to the universe.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The only people pictured are kids, and they are diverse racially, in terms of national heritage, and there's a boy using a wheelchair. A girl in a lab coat is show at a microscope, making a discovery. On one page, kids hold signs with words in different languages and alphabets.

Violence & Scariness

A kids sees a boy holding down another boy, and the text on the page reads: "If you see someone being hurt ... say something." And the kid yells, "Hey! Stop!"


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Say Something! by Peter H. Reynolds (The Word Collector), is a call to action for kids to speak up and stand up -- when they see injustice, when they have something to say, when they are feeling emotions or grateful. The key point is that every voice counts, not just the loud ones, and there are many ways to say something -- through art or poetry, on a protest sign, in a private message to the universe, or by a kind, compassionate act. It's a great message delivered via accessible, cartoony art featuring diverse, enthusiastic kids.

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What's the story?

SAY SOMETHING insists that "the world needs your voice" and challenges readers to say something "in so many ways. With words, with action, with heart." Each page offers an example of a way to say something -- on a canvas with a paintbrush, in an empty lot by planting seeds so flowers will grow, by yelling "Hey! Stop!" when you see a kid hurting another kid, by telling someone how hurt you felt when he they made you feel invisible, just to name a few. From the personal to the political, there are lots of examples of diverse kids expressing their feelings, beliefs, opinions, and even discoveries, as when a girl at a microscope gets a "brilliant idea" and shouts, "Eurkea!" The end papers feature speech balloons filled with messages such as "THINK GREEN," "HATE HAS NO HOME HERE," "Be the change you want to see happen," and "Your voice matters."

Is it any good?

This inspiring book does a great job of encouraging kids to speak up and express their thoughts and feelings, opinions and compassion, and showing the many ways this can be done. Say Something! insists, "The world needs your voice," while acknowledging, "Some people find it easier to say something than others ... but everyone has something to say." And "it doesn't need to be perfect, as long as it's from your heart."

Author-illustrator Peter H. Reynolds' accessible cartoony characters and simple speech balloons make each concept easy to grasp and relate to. Say Anything! is full of positive, nuanced messages, making it great for read aloud and for jump-starting conversation and discussion with older kids (and grown-ups) as well as the picture book crowd. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different ways to speak up that are shown in Say Something! Which ways do you feel you most comfortable expressing yourself? Which other ways might you be willing to try? 

  • What does the author mean when he says "everyone has something to say"?

  • The author says, "The world needs your voice." Why does it? Can you make a difference, even though you're still a kid? What could you do in your school or community? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories of standing up and feeling good about yourself

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