Bud, Not Buddy Project Ideas

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

The following project ideas can help your upper-elementary-school students explore the characters, plot, and themes of Christopher Paul Curtis' 'Bud, Not Buddy'.

Bud, Not Buddy

Bud, Not Buddy is a 1999 children's novel by American author Christopher Paul Curtis. The story follows a young boy searching for his family amid the poverty and racism of the Great Depression in the 1930s, exploring jazz music and other cultural movements along the way. As Bud, Not Buddy is generally seen as most appropriate for upper-elementary students (5th-6th grades), these projects are targeted towards students of that age range.

Bud, Not Buddy Project Ideas

Shifting Perspectives

Students will start by selecting three parts of the novel Bud, Not Buddy that they found to be important moments in developing the plot, conflict, or character arcs. Give students time to parse through the book, free journal, and reflect as they do. Students will then re-write these three passages, each from the first-person perspective of a different character involved in those scenes. Ask students to put serious thought into which characters may be most interesting to reexamine this moment through.

While students cannot change the events or impact of this scene, they will be able to add in new details from the new perspectives. This could include internal thoughts and emotions, as well as actions and events that could have happened but aren't mentioned in the original novel. Students will complete a first draft of these three scenes, peer edit each other's work, and then complete final drafts.

  • Materials: Copies of Bud, Not Buddy, writing supplies

Creating a Book Soundtrack

This project can be completed by students independently or in small groups. For this project, students are going to learn more about early-20th-century jazz music by curating a soundtrack for Bud, Not Buddy. Instruct students to imagine that Hollywood has decided to turn Bud, Not Buddy into a movie, and your students have been commissioned to come up with a jazz soundtrack to accompany the screenplay.

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