The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 Topics for Discussion
by Christopher Paul Curtis

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Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. How would you help By defrost his lips when they become stuck to the "Brown Bomber'"s side-view mirror?

2. Why would Mrs. Henry, Kenny's teacher, set Kenny up as an example for other kids to emulate? How does that affect any friendships Kenny might have with students in his school?

3. What qualities do you look for in a best friend? Why was it hard for Kenny to make friends? What advice would you give him about being a friend?

4. In chapter five, By plays with matches again. Momma is following through with her threat to burn By the next time she catches him playing with fire. Joey is in a panic and trying to stop her. Is she really going to burn him? What does she plan to do? What will her action accomplish? How would you convince By of the danger of his actions?

5. Why does By think they are going on welfare when Momma sends him to Mitchell's grocery for food items? Why would he go on his own and sign for food items without Momma's knowledge?

6. By seems to have no feelings when he is mean to Kenny and other little kids, but when he hits the bird with a cookie and kills it, he seems filled with remorse. By's reaction perplexes Kenny. Explain By's behavior.

7. In chapter nine, Dad explains to Kenny why By needs to go to Birmingham. Kenny tries to understand what Dad is saying but without much success. Explain what Dad is saying about By, By's world, being in Flint, and being with Grandma Sands in Birmingham.

8. In chapter thirteen, Kenny disobeys his grandmother and By and nearly drowns in the whirlpool at Collier's Landing. Later Kenny talks about the steps he took getting himself into trouble. List the steps and examine them. How would they compare to your own list if you examined yourself and...

(The entire section is 470 words.)