First Light by Rebecca Stead Discussion Questions

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

'First Light' is a novel that will appeal to a wide variety of middle school readers. These discussion questions on story, literary elements, and personal responses will help you and your students make the most of reading this book.

First Light

Rebecca Stead's young adult novel First Light consists of two merging narratives. Peter is the son of two scientists who embark on a research trip to Greenland - a trip that may be more than it appears. Thea is a visionary teenager living under the ice in what resembles a post-apocalyptic society. Middle school readers will be fully engaged with Peter and Thea as they discover themselves and each other. Use these questions to spark meaningful discussion about the many topics raised by this novel.

Questions About the Story

  • Why does Thea address the council initially? What is the response of her grandmother and the council? How does this incident shape Thea's actions in the days that follow?
  • What motivated Peter's family to go to Greenland? How does your understanding of their motivation change as the story progresses?
  • What was Rowen's chief motivation? What support can you give for her actions? What criticism?
  • Why did Dexna take a vow of silence? Why did she break it? Was her silence effective, or could she have chosen a better way to respond?
  • Why did Aurora stay away from Gracehope? How did her history affect her, her husband, and her son?
  • Peter's dad brings Gracehope updated world history books and and maps. What else might they need before they emerge after being underground for generations? What challenges might they face upon emergence?
  • Why were Grace's people being hunted? How else might people have responded to them? What causes groups of people to take such extreme measures as those hunters took? What can be done to counteract that kind of actions?

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