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Book Clubs


Tried and true books, discussion questions, icebreakers, readalikes, snacks, and activity ideas that will bring books to life for elementary and tween patrons. The outlines described below have been used and enjoyed with a Homeschool Book Club made up of children in grades 3-6, but lean more towards the tween crowd. 


Help your participants get to know one another, set nerves at ease, and engage with one another using these activities:


The silliest rock, paper, scissors tournament you will ever play. A teacher friend shared this great game with me that works for 10+ people or as few as 6.

  • How to play:

    1. All players begins as an egg - Arch hands over your head to imitate being inside an egg and make a high pitched "me-me-me" sound. I don't know why eggs make that sound, but it's much more fun and silly if they do. 

    2. Walk around the room to find another "egg" and play rock, paper, scissors.

    3. The rock, paper, scissors winner levels up and transforms into a dinosaur.

    4. Dinosaurs walk around with T-rex style claws making dinosaur roars until they find another dinosaur to play rock, paper, scissors.

    5. If dinosaurs win they become chickens, but if they lose they devlove into eggs and must find another egg to keep playing. 

Here is a sample transformation chain, but feel free to mix it up with book characters or creatures:

  • Egg – hands arched over their head making "me-me-me" sound

  • Dinosaur – T-Rex style claws with a dinosaur-ish roar

  • Chicken – arms bent into wings and clucking

  • Superhero – Superman flying pose with an optional cry of “faster than a speeding bullet!”

  • Alien – fingers make antenna on top of head, with a “biggle biggle” type noise


My Name Is and I Like To... (Standing Version)  

A great game for introducing everyone and learning names. It works for groups of 8 or less. More than 8 can be fun, but can also be too time consuming.  

  • How to play:

    1. Stand in a circle. One player says, "My name is ___ and I like to ___ (insert hobby and act out a motion to represent that hobby).

    2. The rest of the group echos what was said and the motion. For example, "My name is Marta and I like to ski (bounce side to side like skiing down a hill)." 

    3. The next person repeats the process and the group repeats the first person's name and action followed by the second person's name and action.  

    4. To see a video of this game in action, check out Ultimate Camp Resource. 


My Name Is and I Like To...(Sitting Version)  

Exactly like the standing version found above, but instead of motions each person must say something they like that begins with the same letter as their first name. For example, "My name is Marta and I like mittens" or "My name is James and I like Jellybeans." After each person has shared what they like, the group must repeat each one. 


Birth Order Line Up

Challenge the kids to line up in birth order without talking to each other.

Discussion Questions
Discussion Questions

Here are some general questions that can be used with just about any fiction or nonfiction book, but keep scrolling for book specific questions. 


  1. Would you give this book a thumbs up or thumbs down? Why?

  2. What have you read that was similar to this book?

  3. What was your favorite part?

  4. Did anything happen in the book that made you really mad or frustrated?

  5. Which character are you the most like? What about the least like?

  6. Did you lose interest at any point or did it keep your attention the whole time? 

  7. If you could change the ending, what would you like to see happen?

  8. If you could give the book another title, what would it be?

  9. Do you think this book would make a better TV show or movie? Who would you cast as the characters?

  10. If you could ask the author one question, what would it be?

  11. What do you think about the book's cover? Does it make sense with the story or would you have picked something else? Are the hardcover and paperback covers different? What about updated or past editions?

  12. Was there one big thing you took away from this book?


  1. Did you know anything about this setting or topic before you read the book?

  2. What did you learn that you didn't know before?

  3. Did the book read like a story, a report, or something else?

  4. Would you like to travel to the place(s) described in the book? Why or why not?

  5. What mistakes did the people make before, during, or after the events described in this book?

  6. What would you have done if you were faced with the challenges described in the book?

  7. Do you believe everything the author told you or are you skeptical about anything?

  8. Will you read other books by this author?

The BFG by Roald Dahl
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
Diamond Willow by Frost
Turtle in Paradise by Holm
A Tale Dark & Grimm by Gidwitz
Icefall by Kirby
Inside Out and Back Again by Lai


By Roald Dahl

The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It's lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants—rather than the BFG—she would have soon become breakfast.

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think about the BFG's scrumdiddlyumptious language? Did you have any trouble understanding what was going on?

  2. Have you ever been awake during the time Sophie calls the witching hour? What do you imagine it would be like?

  3. Can you imagine being taken from your bed by a giant in the night? Is there anything more terrifying?

  4. What is the best dream you have ever had? Worst?

  5. Do you remember any of the dreams caught by the BFG?

  6. Did anyone press their belly button to see if they would become invisible?

  7. What kind of dream would you like the BFG to give you? 

  8. Why did the BFG only eat snozzcucumbers? Is there anything that you and your family don’t eat?

  9. The BFG points out that giants might eat humans, but they don't kill each other like humans do. Do you think humans are better than giants?

  10. Do you think the giants got the punishment they deserved?


Frobscottle is the drink of choice for giants. Sophie asks the BFG for water and he tells her giants only drink Frobscottle (p. 64). It is described as pale green liquid with bubbles traveling to the bottom of the glass and frothy fizz forming at the bottom. It’s also “sweet and refreshing. It tastes of vanilla and cream, with just the faintest trace of raspberries on the edge of the flavour.”

Frobscottle Floats - Cream soda, frobscottle juice (green apple soda with green food coloring or green Kool-Aid), a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a dollop of raspberry (or strawberry) syrup. Demonstrate how to assemble one using the measurements of your choice and then let the kids make their own. 

If you want to try Snozzcumber or other Dahl inspired treats, checkout the books Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes or Roald Dahl's Even More Revolting Recipes


Dream Jars

Let the kids design their own dream jars using glass or plastic jars (any size), mod podge, sequins, and glitter.  Paint the outside or inside of the jars with mod podge and dip or sprinkle the embellishments to their hearts' content. Twelve packs of half pint Ball Jars are available through Amazon for $13.99 and often on sale at Wal-Mart.Craft stores, such as Michaels may offer alternative sizes and pricing too. 

Ask the kids what dreams they would hold in their jars. Encourage them to write their own and keep them safe in their jars until they have come to fruition. 

How Does the Movie Compare?

Show the first 15 minutes (or more) of the live-action movie and find out what the kids think. Is that how they pictured the BFG? What was different or similar about him? What about Sophie?

There are excellent sources for discussion questions and activities all over the web, but start at for fun facts about the author and for great questions, more games, and crafts.  

Read Alikes

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley (Ages 9 and up)

The Gigantic Giant Goof-Up by Sarah Courtland (Ages 8-12)

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (Ages 8-12)

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver (Ages 9 and up)

The Demon Dentist by David Walliams (Ages 9-12)

Check out for more read alikes. 

Frobscottle Floats

Frobscottle Floats

Cream soda, vanilla ice cream, strawberry syrup, and green Kool-Aid or food coloring. We tried Orchard Apple Mio for green color and refreshing taste, but found it's actually brown! We added green food coloring to compensate.

Dream Jars Craft

Dream Jars Craft

Lightly paint Mod Podge on or in a glass jar. Sprinkle sequins and glitter then let dry.

Diamond Willow
The Birchbark House

Diamond Willow

By Helen Frost

Twelve-year-old Willow would rather blend in than stick out, but she still wants to be seen for who she is. She wants her parents to notice that she is growing up and, more than anything, to mush her family's sled dogs all by herself. But sometimes when it's just you, one mistake can have frightening consequences . . . And when Willow stumbles, it takes a surprising group of friends to help her make things right again. ​ ​

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think of the book, paws up or down?

  2. What was it like to read the story with the text in diamond shapes?

  3. What did you think about Willow?

  4. Did you understand that Willow's relatives were the animals in every other chapter? 

  5. Willow says her grandparents talk about the old times “when people didn’t have TV, computers, telephones, or snowmachines and airplanes” (p. 20). Would you want to live in a time like that? Why or why not?

  6. How did you react to the accident? Was it Willow’s fault?

  7. Was it a good decision to ask Kaylie to help sneak Roxy out?

  8. Why did Cora, the lead dog, take Willow and Kaylie down the old trail instead of the correct one?

  9. Have you ever camped outside over night?

  10. How would you feel if you found Lynx tracks around your campsite in the morning?

  11. Do you think Willow should have received a punishment for her actions?

  12. Did you expect Roxy to be a relative too? If so, when did you realize it?

  13. Did this book remind you of anything else you have read?

  14. If you were to come back as an animal, which animal would you hope to be?


Doughnuts and Hot Cocoa – On page 19, Willow’s grandma “made a batch of doughnuts. It’s how she tells me without saying much, she’s happy that I’m here.” Other food from Diamond Willow includes moose meat, potatoes, salmon, and pancakes. If you have easy access to moose meat and are willing to offer it to your patrons, I bow down to your greatness.

Videos to Share

A lynx in action

Sled Dogs in action

Real life stories of blind sled dogs


Fun with Poetry

Share a few shape and concrete poems and encourage kids to write their own. Titles with great examples include:

Doodle Dandies by J. Patrick Lewis and images by Lisa Desimini - Try “Weeping Willow”, “Creep and

Slither”, and “Lashondra Scores”

Meow Ruff by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Michelle Berg

Lemonade Lemonade by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Nancy Donige

Read Alikes

Dogs and survival:

Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner (For readers age 8-12)

The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart (Ages 8-14)

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson (Ages 10-14)

Silver by Gloria Whelan (Ages 7-10)

Husky in a Hut: An Animal Ark Book by Ben M. Baglio (Ages 7-10)

Akiak: A Tale From the Iditarod by Robert J. Blake (All Ages)


Poetry and Novels in Verse:

Among a Thousand Fireflies by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder (All Ages)

Step Gently Out by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder (All Ages)

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Ages 8-14)

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (Ages 7-12)

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose (Ages 9-12)



Balto and the Great Race by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel (Ages 7-11)

Mush! Sled Dogs of the Iditarod by Joe Funk (Ages 8-12)

The Impossible Rescue by Martin W. Sandler (Ages 10-13)

Any Alaska state books

The Birchbark House

By Louise Erdrich

Louise Erdrich draws on her family's history to tell the story of Omakayas, an Ojibwa girl living on an island in Lake Superior around 1847.  Over the course of one year, Omakayas experiences and begins to understand the joys and tragedies of life, death, family, and her place in the world.


Snowball Fight - Recreate Omakayas and Pinch's snowball fight by having your own!  Provide each participant with two pieces of white paper. Instruct the participants to write down a unique question on each piece of paper and then scrunch them into "snowballs." The questions should encourage the kids to get to know each other. For example, “How many pets do you have?”, “What’s your favorite food?”, “What was the name of the last movie you saw?”, etc.


Split the kids into two teams and designate a side of the room for each team (or go outside if it's nice!). Tell the kids they have 30 seconds to toss snowballs at the opposing team’s side. Whichever team has the fewest snowballs on their side after 30 seconds wins!  Then each kid picks a snowball, opens it up, and answers a question.



Maple sugar, wild rice, and blueberries

Other foods from the story included moose stew with fresh greens and berries (p. 12) Maple sugar lump given to Omakayas by Tallow which she later gives to Neewo (p. 24) Heartberries in the forest which Omakayas eats and feeds to the bear cubs (p. 26)

Corn, blueberries and wintergreen tea made the crow meal a feast (p. 60) Chokecherries eaten up by Pinch who blames it on Andeg (p.84) Wild rice harvested in chapter six, smoked fish and venison goes into the food cache (p. 100) Beaver soup (p. 116) Rabbit soup is used by Tallow to help revive Omahkayas (p. 160) Andeg finds a squirrel cache of acorns, seeds, and hazelnuts which the family eats during the winter when food runs low (p. 176).

Discussion Questions

  1. Where does The Birchbark House take place?

    *Show present day photos of Madeline Island, it's beaches, and the Village of LaPointe, WI - Ask if the photos match what they pictured in their mind while they read the book. Do you think the island has changed much since Omakayas time?
  2. Did you learn anything new from this book?

  3. Were you surprised by anything in this book?

  4. Did you have a favorite character? Why?

  5. What did you think of Old Tallow?

  6. How did you feel about the yellow dog's punishment for attacking Omakayas? (Tallow kills him with the blunt end of the axe p. 180)

  7. What did you think of the illustrations? (The illustration of Pinch on p. 186 cracked me up.)

  8. The story began in summer. Do you remember in what order the events and stories in the book were told? What happened in summer, fall, winter, and spring?

  9. There was a lot of food mentioned in this book. Why do you think that is and which meal would have been your favorite?

  10. Throughout the book, Grandma and Deydey tell stories to help teach the children a lesson or entertain them. In the past, how have stories helped you to better understand something about life?

  11. Does your family have any stories they like to tell?

  12. What did you think of the ghost story Deydey told about sheltering from the storm on Where the Sisters Eat Island?

  13. What did you think of grandmother's story about fishing the dark side of the lake?

  14. Omakayas meets two bear cubs in the woods. How would you feel if two bear cubs ran into you in the forest?

  15. Would you like to have a crow as a pet? If you could have ANY animal as a pet, what would it be?

  16. Everyone keeps saying “Gaygo, Pinch” to get Pinch to stop pulling Andeg's feathers, but he only listens when Andeg says it too! Did you know that crows can speak?

  17. Did you think Omakayas was the baby from Spirit Island?

  18. How well do you think she handled the news that she was that baby?


Name That Character

Put up images of each character (scan and print them from the book) and quiz the kids on which character is which. Idea from


Bird Talk

Did you know that crows like Andeg can actually speak? Crows are great at imitating human voices. Check out this video to learn more about crows and then this video to hear a raven named Mischief speaking.  If you can find a video of an actual crow speaking versus a raven, even better!


Do you remember what kind of bird Omakayas heard when she was all alone as a baby on Spirit Island? It was the white-throated sparrow. Listen to their song and watch them in action here:


Read Alikes

The Game of Silence: The Birchbark House Book 2 by Louise Erdrich

The Porcupine Year: The Birchbark House Book 3 by Louise Erdrich

Chickadee: The Birchbark House Book 4 by Louise Erdrich

Makoons: the Birchbark House Book 5 by Louise Erdrich

Morning Girl by Michael Dorris (Ages 8 and up)

Sweetgrass by Jan Hudson (Ages 10 and up)

The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (Age 9 and up)

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
A Tale Dark & Grimm


A Tale Dark & Grimm

By Adam Gidwitz

Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm (and Grimm-inspired) fairy tales. An irreverent, witty narrator leads us through encounters with witches, warlocks, dragons, and the devil himself. As the siblings roam a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind the famous tales, as well as how to take charge of their destinies and create their own happily ever after. Because once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think?!

  2. Did anyone heed the narrator's warnings and skip parts or shut the book?

  3. Was anyone brave enough to read the book alone at night?

  4. The story was made up of nine classic Grimm Tales, did you have a favorite?

  5. Which of the tales did you think was the scariest?

  6. Would you be mad if your parents cut off your head?

  7. Do you think Hansel and Gretel should have left the castle to find a new family? Why?

  8. Did you feel bad for the baker woman?

  9. What did Gretel loose on the way to Crystal Mountain to save the 7 brothers? (The chicken bone key p. 62)

  10. How did they unlock the door? (Gretel cut off her middle finger and used it as a key p. 63)

  11. What happened to Hansel when they moved into the woods?

  12. Would you turn right around and leave if you heard doves telling you to “go home…to a murderer’s house you’ve come”? p. 98

  13. How do you pronounce these words in German and what do they mean? Lebenwald, the Wood of Life (LAY-ben-vault p. 73) and Schwarzwald, the Wood of Darkness (SHVAHTS-vault p. 86)

  14. Who did Hansel see in the pits in Hell? (The baker woman and the murderer with striking green eyes p. 133)

  15. Why did the demons take Hansel to the Devil? (Because he smiled every time he popped up out of the liquid fire pit p. 137)

  16. What did the Devil do to stop the wine from flowing in the fountain?  (Placed a frog right under it p. 146)

  17. How did the devil stop a tree from producing golden apples? (He placed a mouse under it at the root where it is nibbling at the roots and killing it p. 147)

  18. What will allow the ferryman to leave his post? (If he hands off the paddle to someone else p. 148)

  19. The village people mentioned stories about the dragon being a person, but did you expect it to be before you found out?

  20. Were Hansel and Gretel’s parents (the king and queen) good parents?

  21. The children end up cutting off their dad’s head like he cut off theirs; do you think he will second guess them like they did to him?

  22. Do you think Hansel and Gretel made good decisions throughout the book?

Snack & Craft

Hansel and Gretel Graham Cracker Houses - Provide supplies for the kids to make their own confectionery houses. The baker woman's house is made of chocolate cake, so we used chocolate graham crackers and frosting to construct our houses and added candy corn, gum drops, and gummy bears for decoration. 




Other food from the story includes German bread with butter, goose, eggs, and wild board bacon as well as sausage, potato, and cool milk which is all served to Hansel and Gretel by the baker woman (p. 41). Warm milk and black forest cookies are eaten with the seven swallow brothers and rabbit is caught and cooked by Hansel in the woods (p. 75). 

German Names

In honor of the Grimm Brothers' German heritage, have the attendees choose a traditional German name by which they will be called throughout the program. Provide name tags, markers, and a list of names to choose from, such as:








Severed Finger Toss

With so many fingers getting cut off in this story, you can't NOT do an activity involving them! This activity was inspired by Gretel's time in the murderer's house when he tossed his victim's finger and it landed in Gretel's lap. I was unable to find candy fingers despite it being Halloween, but did find a pack of 12 fake witch fingers at Michaels for $2.99. Have the kids partner up and stand 5-10 feet away from each other. One person sits down with their legs crossed and the other remains standing with their back turned towards their partner. The standing partner tosses fingers over their shoulder (without looking) and tries to get them to land in their partner's lap.  Good ole fashioned, disgusting fun!

Grimm Fairy Tales Quiz

In 1812, the Brothers Grimm published their first collection of 86 fairy tales. By 1857, their collection had grown to more than 200! Many of their tales are well known classics, however, as we learned in A Tale Dark & Grimm, the original tales were much different than the ones we are familiar with today.  Read the following descriptions and have your attendees guess which fairy tale is being described:

  • The Evil Queen was not the main character's stepmother but her actual mother and the punishment for her evil deads was to wear iron shoes that had been heated in a fire and dance until she fell down dead. In addition to the heart, the Hunstman was asked to bring her liver and her lungs too. – Snow White

  • A fox called Scrapefoot enters a palace, sleeps in the residents’ beds, and messes with their a salmon of knowledge. In the end he is thrown out the window or eaten, depending on who is telling the story.  – Goldilocks & The Three Bears

  • A frog annoys a princess so much that he is thrown against a wall which transforms him into a prince. In another version, she must cut off his head to turn him into a prince! – The Frog Prince 

  • Two stepsisters cut off their toes and heels to fit them into glass slippers and later have their eyes pecked out by doves. - Cinderella

Story Charades

Kids act out a scene or motion from one of the nine tales from A Tale Dark & Grimm while the rest of the group guesses the tale. The nine tales are Faithful Johannes, Hansel and Gretel, The Seven Swallows, Brother and Sister (in which Hansel turns into a beast), A Smile as Red as Blood, The Three Golden Hairs, and Hansel & Gretel and the Dragon. 

Read Alikes

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz

The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley

The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Troll Hunters by Guillermo del Toro

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket





















Turtle In Paradise
Inside Out & Back Again

Turtle in Paradise

By Jennifer L. Holm

Turtle is sent to live with her eccentric but enterprising relatives in Key West, Florida amidst the U.S. Great Depression in 1935.

Discussion Questions

  1. What did you think of the book?

  2. Have you read anything like it before?

  3. Did you have a favorite character?

  4. Have you ever met any kids like those in The Diaper Gang??

  5. Do you think The Diaper Gang’s baby-watching business was a good gig?

  6. What did you think of their names? Who had the best name? The worst?

  7. What part of the book did you like best?

  8. What part did you like least?

  9. If you found a treasure map, what kind of treasure would you hope to find at the end of it?

  10. Did you learn anything new from reading this book?

  11. Have you ever seen a sea sponge?

  12. What did you think of the Key West setting? Did you know anything about it before reading this book?

  13. Did anything surprise you about Key West?

  14. Did you wonder who Turtle’s dad was before the end? 

  15. Were you happy with the ending?

  16. Is there anything you would change about the book?

  17. Anything you would want to ask the author?



Alligator Pear on Cuban bread (Avocado on toast) – Aunt Minnie gives Turtle “a piece of thick toast with something green and slimy smeared on top of it” and calls it alligator pear.    

Ice Cream – Tamarind, coconut, mango, sugar apple, sour sop were all flavors offered by the ice cream man. Have the kids try one or more of these flavors if you can find them in your local grocery store.  

Key West Photos

Brian Whilhorn from the blog Help Readers Love Reading has posted great photos from his visit to the Keys. They include houses on the real Curry Lane, plus Pepe’s and Sloppy Joes, bars frequented by Slow Poke in the book. 


Kewpie Dolls

Aunt Minnie is outraged when she sees that Turtle has paper Kewpie dolls which she claims were taken from her by Turtle's mother when they were little girls. Show photos of Kewpie dolls, or better yet, print some paper dolls for them to cut out and use.  Try these ones from the blog Sharon’s Sunlit Memories


My homeschoolers were actually terrified of the dolls! They thought they were "creepy" which resulted in a lively discussion about old and creepy toys. 


Treasure Maps

Create your own treasure map like the one used by the Diaper Gang. 


Read Alikes

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (Ages 10-14)

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Ages 10-14)

Holes by Louis Sachar (Ages 9-14)

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Ages 10-14)

Masters of Disaster by Gary Paulsen (Ages 9-12)


By Matthew J. Kirby

Princess Solveig and her siblings are trapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen fjord, along with an army of restless berserker warriors.  All are awaiting news of the king's victory in battle, but as they wait for winter's end and the all-encompassing ice to break, acts of treachery make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you read anything like Icefall before?

  2. Who was your favorite character?

  3. What part of the book did you like best?

  4. What part did you like least?

  5. Did you notice anything going on with Per and Asa before Solveig did?

  6. What do you think Solveig means when she says that she and her siblings are trapped by their birth order? Do you think this is true?

  7. Alric teaches Solveig that stories make people feel certain ways. Can you remember any of the stories they told? Do you think the stories changed their moods?

  8. Solveig is finally proud of herself for her storytelling abilities. What things make you proud of yourself?

  9. Who did you think the traitor was?

  10. Do you think Asa and Per understand the ramifications of their actions? Do you think Solveig will ever forgive her sister?

  11. Why doesn’t Solveig tell anyone except for Alric about her dream? What do you think would have happened if she told everyone?

  12. Were you happy with the ending?

  13. Do you think anything could have made the story better? What about a map or illustrations?

  14. Did you know much about Norse mythology before reading this book?

  15. If you could have any animal be YOUR Muninn, what would it be?


Skyr (pronounced “skeer”) - When the milk runs out and food gets scarce in the steading, Solveig dreams about eating skyr. It’s a sour, creamy, concoction similar to yogurt that was popular in Iceland and for Vikings dating back to 9th century. It’s even mentioned in the sagas, the ancient tales of the Viking age. It is actually thicker than yogurt, more like the consistency of cream cheese. Some grocery stores do carry skyr, but if not, a plain or vanilla yogurt will do just fine. Add some berries and brown sugar to make it even tastier!  The kids had never tried brown sugar on yogurt before and enjoyed it quite a bit.


Smart Animals Matching Game

Crows are considered the smartest birds on the planet and also one of the smartest creatures.  They can be taught to speak, like a parrot, count, use tools (use wire to hook grubs out of trees and the ground), some have even been known to throw clams and nuts onto roads so that passing cars can break them open! The Smart Animals Matching Game worksheet will test your animal knowledge to see if you can guess which smart animal the clue is describing.


The Smart Animals Matching Game worksheet was created and originally available through the National Homeschool Book Award website. Unfortunately, the site is no longer active, but the worksheet can be found here.  



Watch a few of the smartest animals on Earth in action with videos from Ranker's Animal Facts. 



Challenge your kids to create a Viking ship. Print this Crayola Viking Ship PDF on cardstock, color, cut, and assemble!  The instructions suggest gluing the cutouts to cardboard, but we printed them on cardstock to make things easier. For older kids, try this Viking Longship PDF. It’s a bit more complex and the instructions are in French, but it includes a mast and makes for a fun challenge!


Read Alikes

The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby (Ages 10-14)

Frostborn by Lou Anders (Ages 9-12)

Loki’s Wolves by Kelley Armstrong (Ages 9-12)

Odin’s Ravens by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr (Ages 9-13)

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer (Ages 11-15)

Inside Out and Back Again

By Thanhha Lai

With the fall of Saigon, Hà and her family flee Vietnam and face the quirks and grief of being immigrants in Alabama.​ ​

Discussion Questions

  1. How do you think the author’s name is pronounced? Find out here:

  2. Do you have a garden at home? Have you ever grown a fruit or vegetable from a seed?

  3. What did you know about Vietnam before reading this book?

  4. What did you think of the book, thumbs up or down?

  5. Do you like Hà? Would you like to be her friend?

  6. Hà and her brothers were allowed to take one item, other than clothes and food, with them when they left Vietnam. What did Hà's take? What did her brothers take?

  7. What item would you take?

  8. Why do you think the “Cowboy” sponsored Hà’s family and not just her brother?

  9. What does Hà think the inventor of English loved? (Sssssnakes! p. 118)

  10. Why does she say the inventor of English should be bitten by snakes? (p. 128)

  11. Were you happy with the ending?

  12. Did you like that the story was written in free verse? Why or why not?

  13. Have you read anything similar to this book?


Sliced papaya with chili salt (or seasoning) for dipping – Hà's favorite food is papaya and longs for the papaya tree which she grew from a seed back in Saigon. Her mother thinks it tastes lovely dipped in chili salt. What do your book club kids think? Cut a whole papaya in half so kids can touch and see the black seeds.


Other food from Inside Out and Back Again includes rice cakes (p. 1), mung bean cookies (p. 20), black sesame candy (p. 26), banana tapioca (p. 26), rice and water on the ship (p.77), canned syrupy fruit (p. 96), fish sauce makes everything more edible (p. 100), fried chicken (p. 119), and hot dogs (p. 144).


Discuss the Time Period - What Happened in 1975?

  • U.S. President Ford was in office

  • The movie Jaws was released

  • Pet Rocks were the most popular Christmas toy in the U.S.

  • VCRs were developed in Japan

  • Bruce Lee is very popular - Hà's brother Vu really liked Bruce Lee. Play this video to check out his moves


Map Activity

Can you find Vietnam on a map? Track Hà's route from Saigon to Guam, Guam to Florida, and Florida to Alabama.


All About Me Activity

On page 22, Hà states that she doesn’t “know any more about Father than the small things Mother lets slip.” Encourage the kids to explore what they love, dislike, and want people to know about them using this All About Me Worksheet. Ask the kids to not simply list their loves and dislikes, (ex: the color green, horses, garlic) but to really think about their personal quirks and elaborate on them (ex: I love peppermint tea, but I only drink it before bed). 


Additionally, the author Thanhha Lai has stated that she studied the dictionary throughout her childhood in order to learn English. For the “My Word of the Day is” section of the worksheet, provide the kids with dictionaries and ask them to find a word they’ve never heard before and to write down its definition. 


This was one of the most successful activities I have done with my Homeschool Book Club. It would be a great icebreaker or general activity too. Even the quietest participants were enthusiastic about sharing information about themselves. They enjoyed finding strange words in the dictionary too. (Note of caution: Only provide them with children’s and student dictionaries.)



Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper (Ages 9-12)

Enchanted Air by Margarita Engle (Ages 10-15)

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (Ages 11-14)

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Ages 10-14)

Listen Slowly by Thanhha Lai (Ages 9-13)

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (Ages 9-12)

More Resources
More Resources and Ideas

Cooperative Children's Book Center Book Discussion Guidelines

Jbrary Tween Book Club Resources excellent list of additional resources for outlines, icebreakers, and activities

Intentional Storytime for great discussion questions, activities, and food for Mother-Daughter and Boys & Books groups Booktalks & Discussion Guides for hundreds of titles specifically for teachers and librarians!

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