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The Secret Life of Bees

by Sue Monk Kidd
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In The Secret Life of Bees, Lily’s birthday is July 4. She feels ignored, because it falls on Independence Day. Have students write about their own birthdays. Many may have birthdays on holidays, and have them explain if they’ve ever been disappointed by one or have felt that they’re not noticed.

When approaching this prompt, if your birthday falls on a holiday, you could describe a sense of disappointment and conflict you have felt. If your birthday does not fall on a holiday, you could write about any birthday traditions you might have and any times you were disappointed on your birthday for other reasons, such as if a friend could not make it to your party.

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This is an interesting writing response, but it can leave you struggling a bit if you have no conflicts with the date of your birthday. I have a cousin whose birthday falls on December 25, and she always felt a little jilted on Christmas when people handed her one gift...

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This is an interesting writing response, but it can leave you struggling a bit if you have no conflicts with the date of your birthday. I have a cousin whose birthday falls on December 25, and she always felt a little jilted on Christmas when people handed her one gift with a dual "Merry Christmas" and "Happy birthday" sentiment. I'm sure that especially for kids, a conflict like this can be kind of annoying.

However, if your birthday doesn't fall around major holidays, this prompt can be a bit difficult to navigate. You could tackle this in one of two ways. First, you could focus on the first part, which is to talk about your own birthday traditions. You don't have to think large-scale here. At my house, my kids get to open one present when they first wake up. We always decorate their rooms with streamers and then enjoy a meal together. Afterwards, we enjoy cake and ice cream before opening a few presents. It's typically pretty low-key, with just family. It's not all that unusual, but it is our tradition. Think about the traditional ways you celebrate your own birthday, and write about that.

Or you could take another angle of this prompt and talk about a time when your birthday did leave you feeling a little disappointed. Was there a certain gift that you thought you were getting, but that didn't come to fruition? Were you hoping that a certain friend could make it to a sleepover, and that friend couldn't make it? Was your party rained out or impacted by situations beyond your control? Have you ever spent a birthday sick in bed? All of these would provide ample discussion for a disappointment you faced during a time that was supposed to be celebratory.

I hope that helps you construct your response. Good luck!

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