DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR
SPEAK BY LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON
1. Did you enjoying reading Speak? If so, were you surprised that you enjoyed it, since it’s a novel for teens?
2. With its cliques and various social strata, did Melinda’s high school remind you of your high school? Do you think it’s similar to your kids’ high school?
3. Based on your own experiences or the experiences of people you knew in high school, did you find Melinda’s story believable?
4. Do you think her story could have happened at your kids’ high school today? If so, considering the pervasiveness of social media in today’s youth culture, do you think Melinda’s experiences would have been different, for better or worse?
5. Based on the author’s foreshadowing did you guess what had happened to Melinda at the party before it was finally revealed?
6. What did you think of the way the various teachers treated Melinda (e.g., Mr. Neck vs. her art teacher)?
7. What did you think about Melinda’s parents? Should they have reacted differently to the various warning signs of clinical depression and post-traumatic stress she displayed throughout the story, or were they justified in being clueless, since Melinda was intentionally trying to keep them in the dark about her situation?
8. Many English teachers include Speak in their curriculum. How do you feel about this—glad, nervous, or completely against it?
9. Have you ever reread the classics you were assigned as a high school student? If so, were they better or worse than you remember them?
10. Do you think high school English classes should study more books starring and intended for teens, or should these books for teens be left for recreational reading? Alternatively, do you think a teen would be more excited to complete assigned reading if more books like Speak were on their list instead of, say, Great Expectations, The Scarlett Letter, and Anna Karenina?
Second in the packet, this Wall Street Journal article by Meghan Cox Gurdon. Love it or hate it, it's a definite discussion sparker. Even though it made the rounds in the YA writing community ad nauseam, believe it or not, most of the reading public across America is blissfully unaware of its presence.
Third in the packet, Sherman Alexie's WSJ blog response to Ms. C-G's above-mentioned ire-inducing article. Anyone who's seen Alexie speak knows she was poking a sleeping bear at her own risk by mentioning him in her piece. (Cue The Simpsons' Nelson's voice: HA-HA!)
Fourth and finally in the packet, I'm including a YA reading list including other selected titles by LHA (Twisted, Wintergirls, Prom), as well as the following:
Sold by Patricia McCormick
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Tangled by Carolyn Mackler
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Paper Towns by John Green
Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
I'm probably forgetting to mention a bunch of awesome books, but if they read these, they'll be onto a wealth of literary treasure in the YA marketplace. Anyway, hope this guide is helpful to the folks out there in cyberspace searching for Speak book club discussion questions, since all I could come up with were a bunch of lesson plans written by teachers for their teenage students, and Speak merits attention by a crossover audience.