James And The Giant Peach Discussion Questions

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Would you like to instruct your fourth through eighth grade students on 'James and the Giant Peach' by Roald Dahl? These helpful discussion questions will be of assistance in learning new ideas about an old favorite.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

George du Maurier once said ''an apple is an excellent thing--until you have tried a peach.'' In the oft-fantastical story James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, a lonely and miserable young boy is transported on a magical adventure aboard a giant peach with seven unlikely companions. On the way, he learns about worthwhile values including kindness, loyalty, and trust. In the end, your fourth through eighth graders will use their analytical skills, as they explore deeper ideas that are hidden in a seemingly innocent children's tale of redemption.

Main Characters (In Alphabetical Order)

  • Aunt Spiker
  • Aunt Sponge
  • Centipede
  • Earthworm
  • Giant Peach
  • Glow-worm
  • James
  • Ladybug
  • Miss Spider
  • Mysterious Old Man
  • Old-Green-Grasshopper
  • Silkworm

Vocabulary (In the Order They Appeared in the Text)

  • Whyever
  • Insidiously
  • Perambulatory
  • Pandemonium
  • Rambunctious
  • Vermicious
  • Steeplejacks

Questions About the Story (Chapters 1-6)

  • What bizarre and sad event happened to James' parents when he was four years old, and what became of their lovely home by the seaside?
  • How would you compare and contrast the way the story portrayed the dark leitmotif of death, versus the way the story portrayed the beautiful leitmotif of life?
  • Who did James have to go live with, what was his life like, and how did these people treat him?
  • How did the story portray feelings of abandonment, both physical and emotional, that James felt?
  • While chopping wood, who did James meet behind the old laurel bushes, and what did that person give to him?
  • What further explanation did this person give to James, and what specific instructions did James receive?
  • Instead of following the instructions, what occurred when James tripped and fell?
  • How do you visualize what unusual thing began to happen to the peach tree in the yard that had never happened previously?
  • Roald Dahl was originally going to title the story James and the Giant Cherry instead. How would that have changed your perception of the entire story?

Questions About the Story (Chapters 7-10)

  • How do you critique the clever plan the aunts devised to make money off the peach tree, and what became of James when the people and reporters were visiting the yard?
  • What did the aunts make James do to the yard during the night after the people and reporters left?
  • How would you analyze what happened when James crawled into the hole in the peach?
  • How would you evaluate the way the story illustrated the fact that a person should not give up on the possibility of finding friendship?

Questions About the Story (Chapters 11-16)

  • How do you judge the personalities of the seven unusual friends James met inside the peach?
  • How would you compare and contrast the way the seven friends treated James, as opposed to the way the two aunts treated James?
  • What tedious chore did James have to do for the friend with lots of pairs of legs?
  • How do you imagine in your mind's eye what happened when the stem of the giant peach snapped?
  • What became of the two aunts when the giant peach reached them?
  • What happened when the giant peach went over the edge of the white cliffs?
  • How did James and his friends overcome their fears to do things they might never have thought they were capable of previously?

Questions About the Story (Chapters 17-22)

  • How would you describe the situation inside the peach for the eight inhabitants as it began to roll faster and faster?
  • Where did the giant peach land, and what food source did they 'discover' that would provide them with meals for weeks?
  • What scary creatures began to attack the giant peach?
  • How did James and the main characters rebel in the book, how were they rewarded for their rebellion, and how were they punished for their rebellion?
  • What ingenious plan did James devise to lift the giant peach into the air, and what did the other seven occupants think of the plan?
  • How had James suddenly become the ''captain of the ship,'' and what orders did he give to the others?
  • How did the eight residents cooperate and utilize their various skills to implement James' plan?

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