Publisher's Note:  


Twelve-year-old Helen Keller lived in a prison of silence and darkness. Born deaf, blind, and mute, with no way to express herself or comprehend those around her, she flew into primal rages against anyone who tried to help her, fighting tooth and nail with a strength born of furious, unknowing desperation.

Then Annie Sullivan came. Half-blind herself, but possessing an almost fanatical determination, she would begin a frightening and incredibly moving struggle to tame the wild girl no one could reach, and bring Helen into the world at last....

The Miracle Worker

by William Gibson

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Overall Review:  

The story of Helen Keller learning her first word is powerfully portrayed in Willam Gibson’s play, The Miracle Worker. In fact, I know of no other piece of literature that so movingly portrays the power of language!

If your teen or tween has not read a play before, you may need to help them understand how to read the dialogue and the stage directions and put it together in their minds. Or you may want to create a reader’s theater, with each person taking a part, and someone reading the stage directions.

The play starts with some lively scenes that show us Helen as a frustrated, spoiled, ungovernable child, and the play continues to have exciting scenes, but readers will likely have to become involved in Annie Sullivan’s efforts to reach Helen for the play to pull them in to the story.

Take your family to see a production of Miracle Worker if possible, or watch one of the movie versions of the play. My favorite is the 1962 black-and-white version with Academy-award-winning performances by Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan and Patty Duke as Helen Keller, The Miracle Worker.

Reading Level  5.0, based on publisher's information.

Of interest to girls.

This review has been acquired and adapted from

Content Analysis:  

This review was acquired from on May 15, 2014 and was not completed using Compass Book Ratings’ standardized checklist.  Nevertheless, it contains useful content information which is included here.  The overall number ratings have been approximated based on this information.


G*d; d*mn


Servant boy bites heroine’s hand when she puts it in his mouth, heroine puts her fingers in her mouth, bites them, pushes servant girl on her back, grabs scissors, heroine’s mother grabs heroine’s wrists, finally gets heroine to let go of scissors; heroine yanks two buttons from aunt’s dress, overturns cradle with baby in it, strikes mother’s face, kicks, struggles, twists; "much given to tantrums"; kicks father in leg, slaps at and swings at teacher, teacher holds her in a chair while heroine kicks, heroine swings doll, hits teacher in face hard enough to break a tooth; sticks finger with needle while trying to sew, throws water pitcher to floor, jabs teacher with needle; teacher pushes hands away, catches them, heroine begins to fight her, kicks at her, has tantrum on floor; extended scene: tantrum, tries to pull chair out from under teacher, pinches teacher several times; teacher slaps hand away; heroine hits teacher twice; teacher hits heroine twice, forces heroine into chair multiple times; heroine throws spoon on floor multiple times, teacher carries her to spoon, forces her hand around it multiple times, pries heroine out of chair, forces her to get food on spoon and put it in mouth, heroine spits food at teacher; teacher dashes water on heroine’s face; heroine pulls teacher’s hair, hits teacher repeatedly; heroine kicks teacher, throws toys, and box, rips curtains from windows, hits and kicks at door, sweeps objects to floor; teacher throws cup; heroine yanks teacher’s hand away from servant boy, throws down her napkin multiple times, kicks underside of table; teacher grabs heroine from chair; heroine fights and kicks to get away from her; heroine throws fork on floor, dashes pitcher of water on teacher; teacher grabs heroine, carries her out of the room, kicking, pulls her to water pump.


In a speech in Act II about the asylum where she grew up, teacher mentions prostitutes, women who "keep after other girls, especially young ones"; mention of girls thirteen and fourteen years old with babies "they didn’t want"; babies have "sores all over from diseases you’re not supposed to talk about"—begins at bottom of page 68 to top of 69 in Scribner’s edition. Speech begins with the words "Rats."

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Conversation about Ulysses S. Grant as a drunkard; mention of women at asylum with D.T.’s. 

Reviewed By CleanTeenReads
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