Akeelah must overcome a distracting home life to compete in the national spelling bee which in turn helps unite her South Los Angeles neighborhood to rally behind her.
Akeelah Anderson is a precocious 11-year-old girl from south Los Angeles who is discovered to have a talent for words. In spite of the objections of her mother Wanda, Akeelah enters a spelling contest. Her gift takes her to compete in the National Spelling Bee, the most famous competition of its kind in the world. On the way, she is helped by a forthright, mysterious teacher, Dr. Larabee, and other members of her community.