Crenshaw Book Discussion Questions

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

'Crenshaw' is an important book that includes complex themes and colorful characters. Help your upper elementary or middle school-age students explore more about the thematic elements in this novel using these discussion questions.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Applegate's novel Crenshaw is an intriguing exploration of complex themes and is filled with dynamic characters. You'll need to help your upper elementary or middle school-age students discuss how the characters overcome obstacles, make connections with friends and family, view honesty, and bravely face homelessness.

Use these discussion questions to inspire meaningful conversations and thought-provoking considerations in addressing the thematic elements of the novel. You can use these discussions for one-on-one conversations with individual students or assign them to partners or teams. Follow up by asking students to write answers to one or more questions as a summative assessment.

*Note: These discussion questions are designed to be used after students have finished reading the novel.

Overcoming Obstacles

  • What obstacles contributed to the financial ruin of Jackson's family?
  • How did Jackson overcome the obstacles he faced at home and school? Do you think he did a good job?
  • How did the family work together to tackle obstacles? How could they have cooperated better to solve problems?

Friends and Family

  • Why did Jackson need Crenshaw as a young child? Why did he return? Does he help only Jackson, or does he help the entire family? How?
  • Jackson and Marisol are close friends, but it takes time for Jackson to be completely honest with her about his life circumstances. Why do you think he is afraid to tell her? How does she react when he does? What is valuable about their friendship? Does it benefit both of them equally? If so, how? If not, who benefits the most?
  • How does Robin help her family? How does she cope differently with their life challenges than Jackson?
  • What responsibilities do parents have in caring for their families? Should children take some of the responsibility, as well?

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