Monday, May 6, 2019

Speak Up! Listen Up!

guest post by Kathy MacMillan

What does it mean to raise your voice? It can be a lot more than screaming or shouting– it also means defending yourself or a cause you believe in. 

The women profiled in She Spoke: 14 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World, written by Kathy MacMillan and Manuela Bernardi and illustrated by Kathrin Honesta (Familius Press, 2019), faced all kinds of hardships, obstacles, and even violence – but they didn’t let those things stop them from speaking up. The book features activists Dolores Huerta, Suzan Shown Harjo, Leymah Gbowee, scientists Dr. Temple Grandin and Dr. Jane Goodall, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, trailblazers Shirley Chisholm, Abby Wambach, and more. The built-in sound card allows readers to hear the inspiring words of these groundbreaking women at the touch of a button.

The unique audio format of She Spoke makes it an engaging resource for the classroom, but it can be used beyond Women’s History Month! Here are some suggestions:

-After sharing each profile and audio clip, use the accompanying discussion questions to prompt your students to connect the lessons learned to their own lives. The discussion questions could be used as writing prompts or a launchpad for group discussion.

-Discuss how hearing the voices of the women impacts you. How is hearing the person’s original voice different from just hearing someone else read the words?

-Explore more quotes from these women and other trailblazers at our She Spoke board on Pinterest:

-For a more in-depth project, have students write their own profiles in the style of She Spoke. Start by having them find a quote that exemplifies what their subject stood for. (Please see some great research resources we have compiled.) Once they have selected a quote, they can write a brief profile that shows how that quote exemplifies their subject’s life. This exercise is an excellent way to practice thesis statements and supporting evidence. You could incorporate an artistic element by having students create a portrait of their subject to accompany their writing.

About the Authors:

Kathy MacMillan is a nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter,
writer, teacher, librarian, and storyteller. She is the author of the Little Hands Signing board book series (Familius), the young adult novels Sword and Verse and Dagger and Coin (HarperTeen), and nine books for parents, librarians, and educators, including Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together (Huron Street Press). She lives near Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Find her online at

Manuela Bernardi is a film and TV writer based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she was born and raised. She has collaborated on award-winning feature films and has written on shows for TV Globo, TBS, GNT, Multishow, and the History Channel. Her screenplay for the short film The Healing Tree won USC's Peter Stark Special Project grant and went on to be selected for Cannes’ Short Film Corner. With a BA in journalism from PUC-Rio, Manuela got her MFA in writing for screen and television from USC in Los Angeles, which she attended on a Fulbright/CAPES scholarship.

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