Shoeshine Girl Comprehension Questions

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has an Masters of Science in Mathematics and a Masters in Education

This is the perfect lesson for you to use before, during and after your students read Shoeshine Girl. Multi-level questions are asked about important literary elements such as plot, character and setting.

Reading Shoeshine Girl

The novel Shoeshine Girl is a favorite among young students and is widely read as a coming-of-age piece. The main character and protagonist, Sarah Ida, is spunky and easy for students to relate to as she struggles with topics like friends, family and right vs. wrong.

How can you ensure your students fully understand the nuances of this novel? The best way is to get students asking and answering questions about key literary elements like plot, characters and setting.

Comprehension Questions for The Shoeshine Girl - Characters

Getting in touch with characters in this book is easy for most students, but you want them to dig a little deeper and think about characters and their development over the course of the text. Use these questions to help students get up close and personal with characters.

  • How does Sarah Ida feel about her life at the beginning of the story? At the middle? At the end? Describe how Sarah Ida's feelings about her life change throughout the story, giving examples from the text to support your thinking.
  • Who is Rossi?
  • Aunt Claudia agrees to take Sarah Ida in, but she causes Sarah Ida conflict. Why is this?
  • Why does Al agree to give Sarah Ida a job? What does this tell you about his character?
  • How do Al and Aunt Claudia know one another?
  • How does Sarah Ida feel about her parents? Use text evidence to support your answer.

Comprehension Questions for The Shoeshine Girl - Setting

Students typically think of setting as 'place,' but in this novel 'time' is an essential element as well. Use these questions to prompt students to consider where and when in The Shoeshine Girl.

  • Where does the story take place? Why is Sarah Ida there?
  • When does the story take place?
  • How does the author's use of vivid vocabulary allow you to create mental images of the story? Choose one passage from the story and re-read, then draw a mental image. Record the passage under your drawing and underline the words that helped you create your mental image.
  • What is the shoeshine stand like? Where is it, what does it look like, and what does it contain?

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