Film 5: Akeelah and the Bee

Movies that Will Inspire You:
Learning to See the Child Who is Not Yet There

Akeelah and the Bee
Here is another wonderful film that captures the essence of a teacher who was able to see and hold the vision of what a child can be and do. It is the story of a young girl who loves words. She not only loves them, she is a whiz at spelling them. This movie is available on Netflix and other venues. Public libraries often have a good selection of films, or you can rent them or even buy your favorites through

Eleven-year-old Akeelah lives with her mother and brother in Los Angeles. Her mother works hard to support the family and has no knowledge of or interest in the nature of her daughter’s ability. At first, Akeelah herself has little interest in her own ability. But after being recommended by the school principal to enter the school spelling bee, an English professor and tutor, Dr. Larabee (played by Laurence Fishburn), comes into her life. As a past national spelling bee finalist, he sees in Akeelah something far beyond what either she or her family can see. He believes she may be able to compete in the national spelling bee and win! He knows that Akeelah is gifted and that she has to accept her gift and work really hard on learning to spell if she wants to reach the nationals, even as her family will need to support her.

Akeelah and the Bee is a wonderfully entertaining film that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Who would have thought that a spelling bee could be as gripping as this one! Akeelah’s tutor, Dr. Larabee, sees the child who is not yet there. He helps her see herself for the first time and helps her mother see her child’s abilities, even as they bring the entire community together to support her and respect her academic gifts.

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