Jack doesn’t like poetry because, ‘Boys don’t write poetry. Girls do.’ Jack soon discovers that the more poetry he writes, the more he enjoys it – especially poems about his dog, Sky. This short novel is a perfect addition to any poetry unit.
Why use this book?
- Highlights the strong connection and relationships people have with animals, known as the human-animal bond.
- Highlights adopting a pet from a shelter, an option that some students might not be aware of.
- Addresses pet loss in a positive and realistic manor. Often the first loss children experience is that of a beloved pet. Books can provide an opportunity to discuss and deal with emotions about loss and grief in a healthy way.
Ask your Students:
- Why did Jack not want his name on the poems at the beginning of the story?
- Jack gets Sky from an animal shelter. What is an animal shelter? What are some benefits of getting a pet from an animal shelter? The animals will already by spayed/neutered, you are giving the animal a new home, helps control pet overpopulation, etc.
- How do you think Jack felt when Sky got hit by a car? What could have been done to prevent this from happening? Keeping Sky on a leash while outside and not in a fenced yard.
- At the beginning of the novel, Jack doesn’t want to write poetry because ‘Boys don’t write poetry. Girls do’. Do you agree with this? Explain.
- What are other misconceptions or stereotypes about boys and girls? Specific toys for boys/girls, blue for boys, pink for girls, boys need to be tough, etc. Do you think these misconceptions/stereotypes are accurate or fair? Why or why not? See additional resources for some activities on challenging gender stereotypes.
- What are some stereotypes or misconceptions that we have about animals? Certain dog breads like pit bulls are aggressive, pigs are dirty, donkeys are stubborn, etc. Do you think these misconceptions or stereotypes are accurate or fair to animals?
- Have students create their own animal poems. Use Jack’s example ‘My Yellow Dog’ on page 37 and have students create concrete/shape poetry using their favourite animal.
- Have students write a letter to a role model they would like to come visit their school (Use the letter that Jack wrote to Dr. Walter Dean Myers as an example). Encourage students to share why they want their role model to visit, and to include any questions they have for the individual.
Additional Resources Related to Book:
- Teach Creech! Using Literature Circles (including guiding questions)
- For information on helping students deal with pet loss, click here.
- Here are a few lessons for ideas on how to talk about and address gender stereotypes: Toys and gender, and Comic Book Characters