This realistic fiction novel provides many opportunities for further exploration using non-fiction, informational text and inter-disciplinary connections. Listed here are several ideas to get you thinking about ways of making connections.
1. Alcoholism is a major theme in the book. Readers can find and read information about this disease and about organizations such as A.A., Alcoholics Anonymous. On-line resources and links (www.alcoholics-anonymous.org), plus many readily available pamphlets and books, can provide additional reading opportunities that relate directly to this novel. You might arrange for a representative of A.A. to come to your school and speak to students. Check out connections to the health curriculum or local and school policies about substance abuse.
2. Alzheimer's disease is another topic that readers can explore further. One of my students shared that her mother was a nurse in an Alzheimer's unit. We arranged for her to come and speak to our classes at school. She brought informational packets for the students to read and answered a variety of questions. We then planned how to do a service project for some of the residents in the specialized care facility, based on what Jenna and Faith did in the novel.
3. Learning to drive and knowing "the rules of the road" is another powerful theme woven throughout this novel that teen readers can explore further. Invite a driver's training instructor or a police officer in to speak to the class. Your state department of motor vehicles will have driver training manuals that students will be anxious to read and study. On-line resources are also available.
4. In the novel, Jenna becomes a stockholder. Many readers will have limited understanding of stock investments. Use this as an opportunity to read the stock market pages in the local paper, read articles from the Wall Street Journal or Fortune Magazine, and explore investment sites on-line. In conjunction with a math teacher, you might have students pick a stock to follow, plotting the gains and losses over the course of reading this novel. (www.stocktrak.com)
Enhanced Reading and Teaching Guide by Robert C. Bergstrom
Copyright 2002 Robert C. Bergstrom