discussion questions prepared by Kelly Carey
Angie Thomas’s YA novel The Hate U Give is a stark and raw platform for discussions on racism, prejudice, and the Black Lives Matter movement. It is also, just as simply, a wonderfully crafted novel rich in character, setting, and excellent story telling. Through Starr, Thomas offers a voice to readers living the reality of violence, drugs, and racism while simultaneously offering a window into that life for readers whose experiences are very different. Thomas blends the harshest moments of her main character’s reality—the police shooting of her friend, intimidation by a local drug lord, and gang violence—seamlessly with the universal teenage experiences of friendship drama, first loves, and the push/pull of independence from home and parents. This juxtaposition paints a picture often not represented, or sometimes misrepresented, on book shelves. Continue reading
by Kelly Carey
Pam Muñoz Ryan’s middle-grade novel Echo weaves three historical fiction stories together with a flick of fairy tale magic. A witch’s curse and a magic harmonica travel from Nazi Germany to Depression-era Pennsylvania and to Southern California amidst World War II before colliding in New York City. Writers can use Ryan’s novel as a mentor text for exploring the tools and pacing needed to bring different story threads together, evaluating the balance between story and history in a historical fiction novel, and examining how endings affect a reader’s experience.
Use the discussion questions on your own or with a book group to investigate Echo. As you consider each question, take note of how your own manuscripts apply Ryan’s methods. Continue reading
by Wendy M. McDonald
IN 2010, AS MY DAUGHTERS finished first grade, I realized there was a huge difference in their reading abilities. Hermione was a voracious, confident reader, but Luna clung to her step-one readers. Witnessing her twin zip through the Geronimo Stilton series and anything else she could find, Luna felt jealous and more than a little hopeless. She had
a collection of books she wanted to read, but was too afraid to try. The letters were too tiny. There were few—or no—illustrations. The long blocks of text may as well have been Mt. Everest.
I decided that not being able to read at grade level—yet—was no reason for Luna not to enjoy the stories that interested her. I would read to her, and she could read ahead whenever she wanted. But wouldn’t it be even better if a bunch of Luna’s friends read (or heard) the same book and I got the kids together to talk about it, just like a regular book club?
If you’d like to start your own kids’ or teens’ book club, I offer these tips based on what I’ve learned during my seven years leading a successful group. Continue reading
Discussion questions prepared by Kelly Carey
IN NICOLA YOON’S YA NOVEL Everything, Everything, a teenage girl is trapped in her sterile room by a rare disease that makes her allergic to the world outside. Writers can use Yoon’s novel as a mentor text for exploring the use of I-messaging as dialogue, evaluating the characteristics that move a novel from MG to YA, and examining how character, plot, and pacing create tension.
Use the discussion questions on your own or with a book group to investigate Everything, Everything. As you consider each question, take note of how your own manuscripts apply Yoon’s methods.
These discussion questions were inspired by the KidLit Book Club meeting at The Writers’ Loft. We’d love to have you join us. Check out the Loft calendar to find out about our next meeting!