The main character in The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré, Adunni, is on a personal journey to give herself the best life she can despite insurmountably hard circumstances. Her mother dies prematurely and her father needs to pay the bills in Nigeria, so Adunni is sold to a man as his third wife. Adunni struggles through other unfortunate events to find the future she’s always wanted through education. 


During her journey, Adunni meets a few mentors who take her under their wings secretly and guide her along to the next step to becoming who she is, whether they know it or not. The first is Khadija, who is her new husband’s first wife. She sees Adunni as one of her own children to protect. The second is a rich neighbor to her new boss named Ms. Tia Dada, who helps Adunni with her English and serves as a reference on a higher education scholarship application, the last attempt for Adunni to go to school. Adunni just wants to be the leader of her own life. 


In life, people rarely take the journey alone, and have mentors or other influencers along the way that guide, advise, and encourage them. 


In the excerpt below, Adunni is realizing Ms. Tia is a mentor and wants to help her, even though she is one of her neighbors housemaids. 


I feel something move inside my chest. Why is this woman so kind to me? What can she see in me when even me, I am not seeing anything in myself sometimes? I fight the stubborn, foolish tears pinching my eyes, but it come out anyway.

“Aww, I didn’t mean to make you cry,” Ms. Tia say, wiping her finger under my life eye.

“What you see in me, Ms. Tia?”

She shake her head, hold my two hands up, make it like two bars so she can peep my face, the real me behind the bars. It feel like she is climbing out of herself and entering my own soul, my heart.

“Tell me, what do you want most in life?” she ask.

… “My mama say education will give me a voice. I want more than just a voice, Ms. Tia. I want a louding voice,” I say. “I want to enter a room and people will hear me even before I open my mouth to be speaking…”

Ms. Tia is nodding her head yes as I am talking. “You can do it,” she say. (263–264)


Mini Lesson:

  1. Have students read the passage above. Then have them think about the important people in their life. Pose the question: Who has helped you achieve one of your goals or aspirations, or get yourself back on track when you’ve needed it? 
  2. Discuss in small groups or a large group: Many people help others for nothing in return and just help because they enjoy doing it or care about you. Maybe you’ve been a mentor to someone. What is the experience you’ve had helping others? Or tell the story of how someone else helped you. Did you expect something in return? Why or why not?
  3. Next talk about showing appreciation for those people. Point out it’s not always buying them a gift, but it’s more about the thought. Whomever the person or influencer for the student is, write them a letter, email, or message of appreciation. If the student personally knows this person, such as a parent or teacher, have them write a letter and hand deliver it to them. If it is an influencer or person on social media, have them write a social media post or message to them, if available.
    Many Generation Z students get courage or good advice from influencers on YouTube or TikTok who have experienced something they have and have shared their story online (not through a one-to-one interaction), creating a path for them to take. For example, coming out as LGBTQIA+ or coping with mental health struggles. 
  • Teach the structure of a letter or email. Include an opening, body, and signature.
  • Include an experience that meant so much to you. Give details about how they helped.
  • Thank them and tell why you are appreciative.


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Jennifer Epping is a high school English and journalism teacher in Des Moines, Iowa. She has a passion for reading, writing, and making lame jokes to her students just to see them laugh or roll their eyes. She just concluded her ninth year teaching. Epping graduated from Iowa State University with a BS in journalism and mass communication (2010) and BA in English Education (2013). She attended New York University’s Summer Publishing Institute (2010), and spent some time in children’s book publishing in New York.