Sunday, May 11, 2008

Greetings From Nowhere - Part 2

I just finished reading aloud Greetings From Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor with my fifth graders. They really enjoyed it! They were totally engaged with the characters (Aggie, Willow, Kirby, Loretta), and how all their lives intertwined. It was fascinating to see how they all identified, or cared about, one character more than the others. We had a "Kirby" group (probably the largest one), a "Willow" group (gained some fans toward the end), a "Loretta" group (who couldn't love her positive attitude, and her wonderful parents?), and finally the "Aggie" group (what a delightful, caring person!).

At the end of the book, we spent some time rereading favorite parts (students get to choose) -- it was not a surprise to me that the 2 I was asked to read were:
1) the chapter that introduces Kirby
2) the end of the chapter where all the people in the book (with the exception of Kirby's mom) congregate at the pool, just hanging out, enjoying each other's company, and feeling a sense of community.

Then, the second day after we finished reading Greetings from Nowhere, we brainstormed a list of "deep" questions (see similar post from Franki at A Year of Reading). A "deep" question lets us dive into a topic, spend some time with it, and reflect on it in conversation. These are the kinds of questions we try to generate for our Book Clubs, so we've had some practice all year long.

Anyway, the following questions are what the class generated. The starred (*) ones are the questions from which groups formed for conversations.

1) How the 4 main characters are different, and how they became friends
*2) How Kirby changes
*3) Aggie and Harold's relationship, and what do we learn about them in the past?
4) What we discover about Loretta's mom
5) Talk about the relationship between Kirby and his mom.
6) Talk about Willow and her mom, and how much Willow misses her mom.
*7) How does the motel play a big part in the story?
*8) What is the importance of the swimming pool and the flagpole?
9) Kirby and Loretta's poodle dog pin
10) Does the setting matter to the story?
11) Loretta and her moms charm bracelet

The kids' conversations were wonderful, and, as most conversations do, they started with one topic, but ended up discussing several others. I loved wandering around the room, eavesdropping on these discussions.

This is a book worthy of reading, discussing, falling in love with characters, lingering with, and then discussing again. I'm glad we did.

Check back at the end of the week, or next weekend, to see my final post about Greetings from Nowhere -- it will be audience participation, and we'd love for you to join us!!

For my original review, check this link.


  1. I love the idea that you reread favorite parts--how smart. What a great way to linger. Do you do this after every read aloud?

    I agree about the ways kids identified with certain characters. Kirby was by far the most popular with Aggie being second. I didn't have many in the other two groups.

  2. I finished last week, too. I'll have to get my post ready for after Graphic Novels Week!