An illustration of diverse group of 4 students facing the same direction with one student speaking

SPEAK! Activist Network

A leadership program for student activists fighting for the freedom to read

“In 2021, the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) tracked 729 challenges to library, school, and university materials and services, affecting 1,597 books.”

American Library Association

Four Novelly youth advocates on a video call

About the SPEAK! Activist Network

With book bans and challenges on the rise, students across the country are exercising their right to read. As part of the SPEAK! Activist Network, students immerse themselves in the freedom to read movement and diversify bookshelves in their classrooms and communities.

How do I join the SPEAK! Activist Network?


Submit Your Application

To join the SPEAK! Activist Network, students are required to complete a 1 semester program which includes online coursework, monthly meetings, and planning and executing an activist campaign in their community.

Program Requirements
1 semester
Time Commitment: 
1-3 hrs/week
Attend monthly
cohort meetings
Apply to Join the Network

Complete the Program

In Part 1 of the program, SPEAK! Activists will immerse themselves in the Freedom to Read movement by completing coursework on the following topics:

(1) Book Bans vs. The Classroom Canon
(2) Meet the Resistance
(3) Understand the Opposition
(4) Student Bill of Rights
(5) Creating an Activist Campaign

In Part 2 of the program, SPEAK! Activists will apply what they've learned in Part 1 and executive their Freedom to Read campaign.

What exactly will I do during Part 2 of the program?
Assemble your team
of supporters
Conduct community
research & interviews
Design & execute your
Freedom to Read campaign

Renew Your Membership Each Semester

You can be a member of the SPEAK! Activist Network as long as you are a middle or high school student. To renew your membership, you can expand on your campaign or execute a new Freedom to Read campaign each semester. You will no longer complete coursework, but you will continue to join monthly meetings with other members and tell the story of your campaign(s).

Not Ready to Apply? Submit Your Interest

Why does the freedom to read matter?

We believe literature by and for students deserve a place in the classroom, so that every student can feel inspired by what they read.