Monday, April 14, 2014

Pizza and Pages: The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Every Saturday, I host a book discussion group for grades 6 to 9, which I wrote about here.

While I was hopping around the Internet, I stumbled across a librarian that writes up her book discussions on her blog along with a list of her discussion questions. I thought that was ingenious and something that I find handy when I'm planning my book club discussions. (Note: I am soooo sorry, but I absolutely cannot remember what/whose blog it if it's yours, please let me know and I will make sure to give you credit!)

This month, we read the book The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen. This was at the request of one of my middle school girls who absolutely LOVES this book. I thought that there was a lot of potential discussion here, so I decided to give it a whirl. Now, most of my book group falls into one of three categories:

1. The majority, who would be overjoyed if I chose nothing but science fiction every month.
2. A small group of boys who would be overjoyed if I chose nothing but epic fantasies.
3. A VERY small group of girls who would be overjoyed if I chose nothing but romances.

It's sometimes hard to appease all three groups. I make sure to frequently remind them that the purpose of a book club is to read outside of their comfort zone and that even if they don't like a book, come anyway.

So when I picked this book, I knew it would be divisive. At the end of each book club meeting, I have the teens go around the table and rate the book from 1 to 10. A "1" means that "This is the worst book I've ever read in my life. Blech!" A "10" means that "This is the best, most fabulous book I've ever read in my life and I'll never read anything better." I then take an average for my notes.

Plot Summary:

Jessica is 16 years-old and one of the stars of her school's track team. When a terrible bus accident causes her to lose one of her legs, she must find a way to keep her dream of running again alive. Themes in the book are determination and friendship. This one would appeal the most to middle/high schoolers who love a realistic, emotional read like Jorden Sonnenblick.

Average Teen Rating: 7.44
Some gave it a 3 and my three romance fans gave it a 10. The rest middled around a 7.

Discussion Questions:

1. Do you know anyone who has lost a limb or has a similar condition? How do they compare with Jessica? How do the other kids at school treat them?
2. How would you react if you lost one of your limbs?
3. At first, Jessica wishes she had lost an arm instead. Which would be better/worse?
4. Do you think Jessica's up and down emotions are normal or too dramatic?
5. Do you find the other characters to be realistic?
6. Do you think Jessica could have raised that money herself? Do you think she would be in the same place at the end of the book without all of the support?
7. What do you think of Rosa?
8. Would it be more difficult to have a challenge similar to Rosa's (cerebral palsy) or Jessica's?
9. What do you think about Gavin? Did you like that they ended up together?
10. Do you think the romance between Jessica and Gavin was an important plot point or did you wish it hadn't been included?
11. Do you ever judge others or have you ever been judged for the way that you look or act?
12. What was the toughest obstacle you have ever overcome in your life and how did you do it?

1 comment:

  1. I also enjoyed The Running Dream, it is ranked 10 for me! :)