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Harriet the Spy Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Harriet the Spy' is a children's book by Louise Fitzhugh about an 11-year-old girl who writes down all of her thoughts and observations. This asset provides discussion questions for elementary classrooms about this book.

Harriet the Spy

Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy is the story of a unique, yet relatable character, Harriet M. Welsch, who learns some big lessons about choosing her words when the notebook in which she writes everything she sees and feels about the people around her goes missing. The following questions may be used to lead elementary classroom discussions about this novel.

Characters, Setting, and Background

  • Describe Harriet and her family. How does Harriet's setting influence the story? What are some things Harriet learns from her nanny? What can you infer about Harriet's family? How is Harriet's family similar and different from your family?
  • Describe Sport, Janie, Marion, and Rachel. How does the author characterize them? What does learning about their future career plans reveal about each of these characters? What do you want to be when you grow up? Why? What do your dreams for the future say about you?
  • Cite some examples in the story of Harriet's reaction to change. Why is it important for a person to be able to adjust to change? Think about a big change that happened in your life. How did you cope?
  • Why does Harriet write in a notebook? What kinds of things does she write in it? How does keeping a journal help Harriet deal with her feelings? Have you ever kept a journal or diary? What types of things did you write in it? How did you keep it secure?

The Spycatcher Club

  • What happens to Harriet's notebook? What advice would you give Harriet about keeping her notebook safe?
  • What do you think of the classmates' decision to read Harriet's notebook? What would you have done differently? How do Harriet's friends react to the things Harriet has written about them? How would you react if your best friend wrote something like that about you?
  • What is the Spycatcher Club? What types of things does the Spycatcher Club do? Why? Would you join the Spycatcher Club? Explain your answer.
  • What is Harriet's reaction to the Spycatcher Club? What are some ideas Harriet has to get revenge on the people in the club? What are the consequences of these plans? How would you react if you were Harriet?

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