The Great Kapok Tree Discussion Questions

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

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

Lynne Cherry's 'The Great Kapok Tree' is a classic picture book to use in units on endangered species and conservation. Use these questions to guide your students through deeper discussions after you read this book together.

The Great Kapok Tree

The Great Kapok Tree is a brilliantly illustrated picture book by Lynne Cherry. In it, a man begins to chop down a giant Kapok tree in the rain forest. When he stops for a rest, he is visited in his sleep by many forest animals and by a child, each of whom give him a reason to save the tree. This simple, beautiful book provides a poignant catalyst for discussion with elementary students. Use these questions to get your class talking about The Great Kapok Tree.

Questions About the Story

  • Why do you think the man wanted to chop down the Kapok tree? What consequences might he face for his decision to leave the tree standing?
  • Many animals give the man reasons to leave the tree standing. Whose argument do you find most convincing? Why is this argument important to you?
  • What motivates the animals to try to save the Kapok tree?
  • If you were in the rain forest while the man was sleeping, what would you have said to him? If you were the man, what would you have said to the animals when you woke up?

Questions About Literary Elements

  • What was the author's purpose in writing this book? Is the book effective?
  • The child's request is that the man ''look upon us all with new eyes.'' How does the author use the text and illustrations to make this happen?
  • The setting of this book is the tropical rain forest. How would this book be different given a different setting? What characters would be involved and what arguments might be used to seek the conservation of a different setting?

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