Speak Up

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Speak Up Book Poster Image
Uplifting message of individual empowerment and joy.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

No real academic content but tons of social-emotional skills, including great lessons in situational awareness, empathy, and ways to take a stand without being confrontational.

Positive Messages

You matter, your ideas matter, and you can make a difference in other people's lives.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kids model speaking up in each situation and see the positive outcome. The cast of characters is diverse, and includes a girl wearing a hajib, a girl in a wheelchair, and kids of different races and skin colors. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Miranda Paul's colorful, engaging picture book Speak Up is full of positive, empowering messages for readers of all ages. The diversity of families splashed across the pages means children can see themselves in these everyday situations and the ways they can make their voices heard even when doing so seems hard. The book tackles tough moments such as bullying, fear, loneliness, and feeling shy by encouraging empathy and understanding, and showing how simple gestures can make a big difference. At the end of the book, there's a lovely author's note, brief biographies of real kids who spoke up, and some tips for speaking up without being loud – a great resource for more reserved readers. Under the CCPA law you have the right to protect your personal information. Make a Do Not Sell request to Speak UP.

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What's the story?

In SPEAK UP, author Miranda Paul shows a diverse group of kids navigating a school day and learning how their own voice can make a difference. Using common situations such as bullying, loneliness, gratitude, fear, and the many choices kids face throughout their day, readers see the power of speaking up – even when they use gestures, not words. At the end of the book, the author's note mentions her own experiences with speaking up, there are brief biographies of kids who made a difference, some tips for figuring out if you should speak up, and how to raise your voice without being loud.

Is it any good?

With big, colorful scenes and simple rhyming, this uplifting book helps kids see their place in the world and the incredible value of their voice. Rather than show speaking up as a giant event that only the loudest among us can accomplish, Speak Up emphasizes the small, everyday moments that give us all the chance to make things right. Many young readers will relate to the teacher mispronouncing their name or feeling like they have nowhere to sit at lunchtime, and they can see how small gestures can change the outcome. The diversity of families is important, as are the tools that help even a shy child speak up in their own way.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes it hard to Speak Up and what makes it easier. Are there times when you've thought about saying something bothered you but didn't tell anyone?

  • How can we help other people feel comfortable speaking up when they need to? Are some people you know more likely to speak up than others? Why do you think that happens?

  • What makes it easier to apologize after making a mistake? What can each of us do to help make apologies easier to give and receive?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love school stories and tales of feeling good about yourself

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