Bud, Not Buddy is a great read. Who wouldn’t enjoy this story of a spunky orphan who’s had such a rough start in life and suddenly finds adventure and a real family at the end of it all! Bud, Not Buddy, a middle grades historical fiction novel by Christopher Paul Curtis, is a wonderful choice for a whole-class novel study for middle school or upper elementary classes.
Since Bud, Not Buddy is historical fiction, non-fiction history readings are natural choices as paired passages for extension activities. Passages about both the Great Depression and the Jazz Age both fit right in since the story takes place in the 1930’s and features a 1920’s era jazz band in the plot.
There is a large selection of related material at PBS Learning Media, which you can join for free. The site has documents, videos, photos, more types of media, and even teacher-created resources. A quick look found videos about the depression, biographies of notable people from the time, some great period photos, lesson plans to go with Ken Burns’ The Dust Bowl, and teacher-made resources about riding the rails and the dust bowl. I found an interview with an immigrant who remembered that time especially interesting.
At another one of my other favorite sites, Newsela, I found two history article written for students, one about the Great Depression and one about the Harlem Renaissance, complete with writing prompts and a quiz. Students can read the articles and then take the quizzes online, or you can print them out for class use. Another great feature – like other Newsela articles, these are available at several different reading levels.
Another interesting angle might be to find modern articles on similar themes. For example articles about a modern type of jazz music or about playing the saxophone would appeal to the kids who love to listen to music. Articles about places where people face hunger like in the great depression today would be sobering but also interesting to kids as well. Advertisements for traveling by train and news articles about people who hop trains to “ride the rails” today are other possibilities.
When I was putting together my novel study for Bud, Not Buddy I also made this FREE RESOURCE, “Bud, Not Buddy – Living in the Great Depression,” that includes two printable extension activities. For the first activity, Picturing Life in a Hooverville, students create a six-frame storyboard with their own drawings and captions. The second activity consists of two writing prompts – one about Bud’s life on his own and an alternate ending to the story, and the other one about jazz music. Click on the image to download your free copy.
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Related Posts and Resources
Click on any of the images below to check out these additional resources: a blog post that includes a list of discussion questions and a novel study with a card game that are available from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. The card game is now included as a part of the novel study!