The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963

AR Reading Level: 5.0

Scholastic Reading Level: 5.5

Summary: The Watsons are an African American family living in Flint, Michigan who make a trip to Birmingham, Alabama. While in Alabama they experience a hate crime which makes them returned home with one child being emotionally scarred by the experience.

Review: This is a very slow moving story. They don’t even arrive in Birmingham until the middle of chapter 11. The spend 35 pages out of 210 in Birmingham. There is a storyline up until that point but it is more the talk of a family who is struggling with raising their children because of the outside influences and peer pressure occuring around them. When they get to Birmingham it is action packed with event after event, and moves quite quickly. The hate crime at the end of their Birmingham stay is brutal but honest, however to me, it was too late in the book to keep you intrigued enough to want to read that far. I pushed through the boring parts but I am not sure that a child would.


Activities: Rather than reinventing the wheel on this one, I found a couple of great book studies that I would like to share with you.

The first one has the New York State Standards at the beginning of it, so ignore those unless you want them of course. The material here is great. Worksheets are included and instructions are clearly outlined. You can find that packet here.

The second is through a site called Book Club Lesson Plan. All of the information you will find here is set up to facilitate book club and small group settings. Each time you complete a lesson, you simply advance to the next. All the questions, writing prompts, and teaching ques (read excitedly, etc) are included on their website. Click here to look through their information.


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