One of our recommended books is The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM – 1963


Celebrate the 25th anniversary of this Newbery and Coretta Scott King Honoree about a hilarious family on a road-trip at one of the most important times in America’s history. This special edition makes a perfect gift and includes bonus content.

Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There’s Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron, who’s thirteen and an “official juvenile delinquent.”

When Byron gets to be too much trouble, they head South to Birmingham to visit Grandma, the one person who can shape him up.

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Celebrate the 25th anniversary of this Newbery and Coretta Scott King Honoree about a hilarious family on a road-trip at one of the most important times in America’s history. This special edition makes a perfect gift and includes bonus content.

Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There’s Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, and brother Byron, who’s thirteen and an “official juvenile delinquent.”

When Byron gets to be too much trouble, they head South to Birmingham to visit Grandma, the one person who can shape him up. And they’ll be in Birmingham during one of the darkest moments in America’s history.

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  • Yearling Books
  • Paperback
  • November 2020
  • 210 Pages
  • 9780593306499

Buy the Book

$11.99

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About Christopher Paul Curtis

Christopher Paul Curtis is the author of The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, one of the most highly acclaimed first novels for young readers in recent years. It was singled out for many awards, among them a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor, and has been a bestseller in hardcover and paperback. Christopher grew up in Flint, Michigan. After high school he began working on the assembly line at the Fisher Body Flint Plant No. 1 while attending the Flint branch of the University of Michigan. He is now a full-time writer. He lives with his family in Detroit.

Praise

“Marvelous . . . both comic and deeply moving.” The New York Times

“This is a book that changes lives. It certainly changed mine.” –Kate DiCamillo, two-time Newbery Medalist

“One of the best novels EVER.” –Jacqueline Woodson

Discussion Questions

1. At what point in the novel does Curtis introduce the conflict to create the tension in this story?

2. What is the climax, or the turning point, of The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, change the outcome of the plot?

3. How does the church bombing change Kenny and Byron’s relationship?

4. How does Mrs. Watson sense that something is wrong between the Kenny and Rufus? Kenny thinks that Rufus changed while the Watsons were away. Do you think it’s Rufus or Kenny who changed?

5. Why does Mrs. Watson think that Grandma Sands is the person who can change Byron’s behavior? Describe Kenny’s reaction when he meets his grandmother for the first time. Why does Kenny think that Byron will win the battle with Grandma Sands? At what point does he realize that he is wrong?

6. Kenny worries that he won’t ever know how to be a grown-up. Mr. Watson assures his son that he’ll have lots of time to practice before he actually becomes a grown-up. Describe his baby steps and giant steps toward becoming a man.

7. Kenny struggles to understand how anyone could bomb a church and kill four little girls. Discuss the following comment from Byron: “I don’t think they’re sick at all, I think they just let hate eat them up and turn them into monsters.” How does Byron’s perception of the bombers apply to those responsible for violent acts in our current society?

8. Kenny tells Byron, “I’m not scared, I’m just real, real ashamed of myself.” Why is he ashamed? How does Byron help Kenny come to terms with his shame?

9. The novel is told in first person from Kenny’s point of view. How does Curtis use dialogue to reveal what other characters are thinking?