Eleven year-old Akeelah Anderson's life is not easy: her father is dead, her mom ignores her, her brother runs with the local gangbangers. She is a smart girl, but her environment threatens to strangle her aspirations. Responding to a threat by her school's principal, Akeelah decides to participate in a spelling bee to avoid detention for her many absences. Much to her surprise and embarrassment, she wins. Her principal asks her to seek coaching from Dr. Larabee, an English professor, for the more prestigious regional bee. As the possibility of making it all the way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee looms, Akeelah could provide her community with someone to rally around and be proud of. First Akeelah will have to overcome her insecurities, her distracting home life, and the knowledge that there is a field of more experienced and privileged fellow spellers. For school-age children.